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Full text of "Tennessee county history series : McMinn County / by C. Stephen Byrum ; Frank B. Williams, Jr., editor"

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Tennessee  County  History  Series 


EDITORIAL  BOARD 

Frank  B.  Williams,  Jr.,  Editor  for  East  Tennessee 
Robert  B.Jones,  Editor  for  Middle  Tennessee 
Charles  W  Crawford,  Editor  for  West  Tennessee 
J.  Ralph  Randolph,  Coordinator 

EDITORIAL  STAFF 
Anne  B.  Hurley 


TENNESSEE   COUNTRY   HISTORY   SERIES 


McMinn  County 


by  C.  Stephen  Byrum 

Frank  B.  Williams,  Jr. 

Editor 


tc  Ijp  hs 

MEMPHIS   STATE   UNIVERSITY   PRESS 

Memphis,  Tennessee 


Copyright  ©  1984  by  Memphis  State  University  Press 

All  rights  reserved.  No  part  of  the  book  may  be  reproduced  or 
utilized  in  any  form  or  by  any  means,  electronic  or  mechanical 
(including  photocopying  and  recording)  or  by  any  information 
storage  and  retrieval  system  without  permission  from  the 
publisher. 

Maps  prepared  by  MSU  Cartographic  Services  Laboratory 

Manufactured  in  the  United  States  of  America 

Design  by  Gary  G.  Gore 

ISBN  0-87870-176-1 


TO  PHYLLIS 


Acknowledgements 

This  work  has  truly  been  a  labor  of  love.  It  has  given  me  the 
opportunity  to  explore  my  roots  in  a  special  way,  and  has  pro- 
vided the  chance  to  add  substance  to  that  feeling  of  uniqueness 
that  McMinn  County  has  always  provided  for  my  life. 

My  hope  is  that  this  book  has  been  written  in  such  a  way  that 
not  only  trained  historians  and  accomplished  history  "buffs" can 
profit  from  contact  with  it,  but  that  school  children  and  non- 
academics  can  be  brought  to  have  interest  in  and  appreciation 
of  their  own  geographical  and  historical  backgrounds.  Someone 
wisely  remarked  that  it  is  difficult  to  know  where  we  are  going 
unless  we  have  some  idea  of  where  we  have  been. 

The  thorniest  problem  in  writing  this  book  has  been  the  de- 
cisions about  what  would  be  left  out.  It  is  certain  that  much  more 
has  been  omitted  than  has  been  included.  I  hope  that  at  some 
future  time  this  material  will  become  the  basis  for  an  exhaustive 
history  of  McMinn  County.  But  space  limitations  and  economic 
considerations  notwithstanding,  this  material  does  represent  the 
first  specific  attempt  at  an  even  relatively  complete  county  his- 
tory o£  this  area. 

I  would  like  to  acknowledge  the  assistance  of  all  those  who 
shared  their  personal  reminiscences,  and  those  whose  often  un- 
credited  work  appeared  across  the  years  in  newspaper  articles 
and  retrospectives  about  the  county  that  I  have  researched.  Both 
The  Daily  Post- Athenian  and  the  Etowah  Enterprise  have  turned  out 
excellent  special  edition  histories  in  the  last  several  years.  I  am 
particularly  indebted  to  the  writing  of  James  Burn,  Neal  Ens- 
minger,  Frank  McKinney,  W.  E.  Nash,  Grace  Oliphant,  and  Mrs. 
Harold  Powers  in  these  papers.  I  am  also  indebted  to  the  DPA 
for  several  of  the  older  pictures  that  have  been  included.  Burn, 
the  McMinn  County  historian,  made  numerous  helpful  sugges- 
tions following  his  close  reading  of  the  original  manuscript. 

Those  who  have  worked  with  this  project  at  Memphis  State 
University  Press  have  been  of  utmost  help.  I  am  indebted  to  the 
advice  and  direction  of  J.  Ralph  Randolph.  In  addition,  the  ex- 

vi 


McMINN  vii 

ceptional  editorial  assistance  of  Frank  Williams  and  Nancy  Hur- 
ley has  enhanced  this  material  tremendously.  My  special  gratitude 
must  be  expressed  to  them. 

Most  importantly,  1  appreciate  the  support  of  my  family  in 
this  project.  My  son,  Philip,  did  a  good  deal  of  the  initial  research 
on  the  Indian  activities  in  the  area.  My  daughter,  Meredith,  re- 
peatedly provided  "good  company"  on  jaunts  into  the  backwoods 
of  the  county  to  run  down  some  lead  or  visit  some  site.  My  wife, 
Phyllis,  has  a  gift  for  clarity  of  expression  and  what  will  be  of 
lasting  interest  that  has  contributed  immeasurably  to  the  fin- 
ished product.  With  great  affection,  I  dedicate  the  work  to  her. 

History  is  dynamic  and  most  of  it  is  lived  out  between  the 
lines  of  that  which  finally  is  recorded  in  documents.  This  book 
is  an  affectionate  look  backward,  a  pause  that  allows  us  to  re- 
member— and  in  remembering,  to  see  a  "best"  about  ourselves 
that  compels  us  to  move  into  the  future  with  renewed  vitality. 


A  Preface  of  Wanderings  and  Personal  Glimpses 

When  I  think  about  McMinn  County,  I  recognize  that  it  has 
already  taken  on  mythological  proportions  in  my  own  mind — 
perhaps  everyone's  "home"  does.  It  is  sometimes  difficult  to  sort 
out  a  myth,  particularly  in  the  South,  and  to  preserve  a  sensitive 
tension  between,  on  the  one  hand,  the  idea  that  this  place  that 
you  care  a  great  deal  about  is  unique,  and  on  the  other,  that  there 
must  be  thousands  of  other  small  counties  just  like  it — with  sim- 
ilar histories  and  similar  faces — from  one  end  of  this  nation  to 
the  other.  What  our  age  desires  is  fact  and  not  myth,  but  what 
we  may  need  is  feeling,  too — so  that  the  bones  of  the  past  can  be 
given  flesh  and  the  cold  vestiges  of  historical  data,  the  faded, 
one-dimensional  photographs  of  unremembered  faces  and  un- 
accustomed styles  can  be  warmed  with  memory  and  appreciation. 

There  is  a  distinct  difference  between  history  and  heritage. 
Heritage  is  history  that  has  somehow  become  personal.  It  is  her- 
itage that  I  am  attempting  to  convey  in  these  pages.  More  than 
to  give  a  history  of  the  county,  I  would  like  to  convey  something 
of  the  feeling  of  the  place.  If,  beyond  the  data  and  the  pictures, 
the  names  and  the  dates,  there  is  created  "a  sense  of  place,"  then 
I  will  have  been  successful. 

As  I  try  to  work  back  through  the  layers  of  my  own  myth,  I 
see  the  photographs  of  Margaret  Bourke-White  in  You  Have  Seen 
Their  Faces  and  Walker  Evans  in  Let  Us  Now  Praise  Famous  Men. 
I,  too,  have  seen  the  old  Coca-Cola  and  Nehi  signs  with  the  ther- 
mometers built  into  the  bottles,  the  walls  covered  with  Cardui 
and  Black  Draught  calendars,  the  faces  which  are  shy  before 
cameras  but  also  proud  of  new,  harnesslike  overalls  and  blue 
serge  suits.  While  I  am  sure  that  the  pitiful  poverty  and  degra- 
dation of  the  tenant  sharecroppers  captured  by  the  photographs 
in  the  1930s  could  have  been  found  in  McMinn  County,  on  the 
whole  it  seemed  always  to  be  a  more  affluent,  cleaner,  less-given- 
to-extremes,  and  generally  happier  place  than  the  highly  dra- 
matized, southern  myths  might  suggest. 

The  Civil  War  did  not  rage  here,  although  there  were  a  few 
battles  and  skirmishes.  There  were  few,  if  any,  antebellum  man- 
sions of  the  Tara  variety,  although  there  were  and  are  many  fine 
homes.  Neither  the  KKK  nor  the  Civil  Rights  movement  became 

viii 


McMINN  ix 

items  of  major  significance,  although  there  have  been  moments 
of  memorable  division  and  conflict.  From  the  county's  inception 
there  has  been  change,  but  like  its  waterways — the  Hiwassee, 
Eastanallee,  and  Conestaga — it  has  almost  always  been  calm,  easy, 
consistent,  and  at  times  even  touched  with  a  marked  beauty. 

Another  part  of  my  personal  myth  grows  out  of  the  work  of 
one  of  the  greatest  Tennessee  literary  figures,  James  Agee.  Sur- 
rounding the  plot  of  his  epic  A  Death  in  the  Family  are  human 
glimpses  of  Knoxville  and  East  Tennessee  in  the  early  part  of  the 
1900s.  His  description  of  the  homes — "middle-sized  gracefully 
fretted  wood  houses,  with  small  front  and  side  and  more  spa- 
cious back  yards,  and  trees  in  the  yards,  and  porches" — perfectly 
describes  the  finest  dwellings  which  spread  out  from  Washington 
Street  and  Madison  Avenue,  along  Jackson  Street  across  the 
bridge,  and  surrounding  the  college  in  the  Athens  of  my  youth. 
These  were  proud  structures,  like  the  people  who  lived  in  them, 
reflecting  a  precise  attention  to  detail  and  craftsmanship  which 
sometimes  seems  almost  totally  lost,  unnecessary,  or  unafford- 
able  in  the  sameness  of  the  modern  dwelling. 

Agees  most  poignant  scene  is  of  the  summer  evening  ritual 
of  men  coming  home  from  work,  completing  their  evening  meals, 
removing  their  starched  white  collars,  and  spending  a  good  part 
of  the  early  evening  with  hose  in  hand  watering  their  lawns.  With 
an  almost  religious  precision  the  hose  is  uncoiled,  the  nozzle  finely 
adjusted,  the  lawn  given  its  nightly  drink,  and  then  the  hose 
carefully  recoiled  and  stored  away. 

It  is  not  of  the  games  children  play  in  the  evening  that  I  want  to 
speak  now,  it' is  of  a  contemporaneous  atmosphere  that  has  little 
to  do  with  them:  that  of  the  fathers  of  families,  each  in  his  space 
of  lawn,  his  shirt  fishlike  pale  in  the  unnatural  light  and  his  face 
nearly  anonymous,  hosing  their  lawns.  These  sweet  pale  stream- 
ings in  the  light  lift  out  their  pallors  and  their  voices  all  together, 
mothers  hushing  their  children,  the  hushing  unnaturally  pro- 
longed, the  men  gentle  and  silent  and  each  withdrawn  into  the 
quietude  of  what  he  singly  is  doing,  peaceful,  tasting  the  mean 
goodness  of  their  living  like  the  last  of  their  suppers  in  their  mouths; 
while  the  locusts  carry  on  this  noise  of  hoses  on  their  much  higher 
and  sharper  key. 


x  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

Lawn  is  a  curious  word,  a  sophistication  of  yard,  and  certainly 
a  far  cry  from  the  solid  red-clay  living  spaces  that  surrounded 
settlers'  cabins  which  were  meticulously  swept  daily  by  the  women 
as  they  also  swept  the  dirt  "floors"  of  the  insides  of  their  cabins. 
A  lawn  may  have  represented  the  first  thing  grown  for  decora- 
tion and  not  food;  the  spigot  in  the  wall,  quick  and  easy  water 
that  did  not  have  to  be  laboriously  carried  in  small  amounts  from 
a  well,  cistern,  or  spring.  The  evening  ritual  allowed  the  men, 
surrounded  by  their  places  and  their  families,  a  moment  of  med- 
itative solitude. 

In  my  earliest  memories,  my  father  stood  there  with  his 
neighbors  on  summer  evenings  and  watered  his  lawn.  He  and 
his  neighbors  were  not  dressed  in  the  suspenders  and  collarless 
white  shirts  of  Agee's  Knoxville,  but  the  matching  green  or  gray 
of  a  factory  foreman's  uniform  from  Sears  8c  Roebuck.  He  always 
paid  careful  attention  to  a  pecan  tree  to  mark  the  fact  that  he 
had  lived  in  this  place.  My  brother  and  I  were  put  to  bed  with  a 
Bible  storybook  that  had  served  two  generations,  and  the  hissing 
of  the  hose  became  our  lullaby.  The  sameness  of  the  ritual  gave 
security. 

But,  we  always  stirred  when  our  mother  left  the  room — to 
stare  out  across  the  semidarkness  of  neighbors' backyards  to  the 
Keith  mansion  which  dominated  the  horizon  and  Highway  1 1 
before  there  was  a  bypass  and  long  before  there  was  an  inter- 
state. We  counted  cars  and  dreamed  of  where  they  were  going. 
We  wondered  what  people  did  in  mansions.  We  listened  to  the 
spray  of  hoses,  and  like  many  before  and  since  found  our  own 
way  of  sinking  indelibly  imprinted  roots  of  McMinn  County  deep 
into  the  subsoil  of  our  existence. 

Finally,  my  myth  crosses  the  path  of  that  superb  Yankee  poet, 
Wallace  Stevens,  and  particularly  his  poem  "Anecdote  of  the  Jar." 
I  have  pondered  it  again  and  again  from  my  own  perspective  as 
it  has  been  informed  by  McMinn  County. 

I  placed  ajar  in  Tennessee, 
And  round  it  was,  upon  a  hill. 
It  made  the  slovenly  wilderness 
Surround  that  hill. 


McMINN  xi 

The  wilderness  rose  up  to  it. 
And  sprawled  around,  no  longer  wild. 
The  jar  was  round  upon  the  ground. 
And  tall  and  of  a  port  in  air. 

It  took  dominion  everywhere. 
The  jar  was  gray  and  bare. 
It  did  not  give  of  bird  or  bush, 
Like  nothing  else  in  Tennessee. 

The  poet  wintered  in  Florida  during  the  early  middle  of  this 
century  and  traveled  by  train  and  car  through  Tennessee  on  his 
way  South — perhaps  I  counted  his  car  one  night  as  I  stared  out 
my  window.  Tennessee,  compared  to  the  urban  organization  of 
his  Connecticut  home,  was  wildernesslike  and  came  to  represent 
a  general  chaos  of  life  that  needed  focal  points — like  the  jar — 
that  could  give  definition  and  meaning. 

I  have  always  been  troubled  by  Stevens  analogy,  especially  in 
regard  to  McMinn  County.  Undoubtedly  it  was  a  wilderness  when 
the  first  explorers  under  Hernando  DeSoto  came  through  the 
area  in  1540.  In  many  respects,  the  wilderness  probably  contin- 
ued its  existence  through  1819  when  the  county  was  officially 
established. 

But,  a  wilderness  is  not  necessarily  careless,  untidy,  or  slov- 
enly— to  use  Stevens' word.  A  wilderness  is  also  a  challenge  and 
an  opportunity,  an  unmolded  piece  of  clay,  for  those  who  have 
the  courage  to  take  it  into  their  hands  and  make  something  out 
of  it.  These  kinds  of  people  do  not  simply  need  focal  points  to 
provide  meaning  in  the  midst  of  chaos,  the  tenacity  of  their  own 
lives  provides  and  becomes  a  focal  point.  Their  lives  impart  mean- 
ing, and  squeeze  creation  out  of  chaos.  These  kinds  of  people 
founded  counties  like  McMinn,  becoming  respectful  inheritors 
of  the  past  and  responsible  transmitters  of  the  best  of  that  past 
to  the  future. 

In  the  fall  of  1946  the  most  famous  moment  in  the  history  of 
McMinn  County  took  place.  "The  Battle  of  Athens"pitted  newly- 
returned  veterans,  who  had  come  to  learn  a  new  meaning  of 
freedom  in  the  hedgerows  of  France  and  the  jungles  of  the  South 


xii  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

Pacific,  against  the  powerful  political  establishment  backed  by 
Shelby  County's  "Boss"  Crump,  one  of  the  most  powerful  south- 
ern politicians  since  reconstruction.  News  of  the  "Battle,"  which 
will  be  described  in  detail  in  a  later  chapter,  spread  across  the 
country,  and  inspired  a  series  of  such  moments  of  "participatory 
democracy" in  many  locations. 

Theodore  White,  famous  for  his  volumes  on  the  making  of 
presidents,  was  dispatched  by  Harper's  Magazine  to  chronicle  the 
events.  Whites  first  impressions  of  the  people  and  the  county 
are  revealing: 

The  people  of  McMinn  County,  like  the  taut,  coppery  wires  of  the 
high  tension  lines  which  cross  above  them,  hum  with  subdued 
peaceful  activity  until  they  are  disturbed,  and  then,  like  the  wires, 
they  snap  in  a  shower  of  sparks.  The  people  are  god-fearing.  When 
the  Robert  E.  Lee  highway  climbs  out  of  the  Shenandoah  Valley, 
which  can  take  its  religion  or  leave  it,  into  East  Tennessee  on  the 
road  to  McMinn  county  the  highway  is  sprinkled  with  signboards 
telling  the  godless  wayfarers  that  "Jesus  is  coming  soon"  or  warn- 
ing them  "Prepare  to  Meet  God."  McMinn  itself  is  relatively  free 
of  such  shrieking  witnesses  to  faith.  McMinns  religion  is  Methodist 
and  Baptist,  quiet,  bone-deep,  and  sober.  On  Saturday  afternoon 
when  farmers  throng  the  town,  preachers  are  allowed  to  call  sin- 
ners to  repentance  in  the  shade  of  the  courthouse  at  the  county 
seat.  But  most  of  McMinn  meets  God  in  the  serenity  of  Sunday 
morning  at  the  red  brick  or  white  board  house  of  worship  in  peace 
and  devotion.  The  church-goers  have  made  liquor  illegal,  and 
Sunday  movies  are  unlawful,  too. 

Whites  words  were  written  almost  forty  years  ago,  and  much 
of  the  physical  landscape  of  McMinn  County  has  changed.  How- 
ever, the  "internal  landscape"  has  varied  little.  Religion  and 
politics  continue  their  influences.  Slogans  may  have  changed  and 
even  made  their  way  to  bumper  stickers  on  cars,  but  still  the  oc- 
casional cross  formed  in  concrete  announces  that  "Jesus  is  Com- 
ing." The  power  lines  still  hum  with  TVA  power,  although  now 
from  nearby  nuclear  reactors.  There  are  Sunday  movies,  but  liq- 
uor is  still  illegal  and  lawmen  and  bootleggers  only  occasionally 
continue  their  ironic  roles. 


McMINN  xiii 

"Moonshine"  holds  little  more  than  a  cultural  and  aesthetic 
significance,  as  the  accessibility  of  Knoxville  and  Chattanooga 
has  made  the  art  useless  and  unprofitable.  Every  few  years  a  liq- 
uor referendum  is  held  and  the  church  leaders  rally  the  "forces 
of  good"  to  face  the  "principalities  and  powers  of  the  rulers  of 
the  darkness  of  the  world."  They  continue  to  win  by  safe  mar- 
gins, and  yet  another  periphery  of  the  Kingdom  of  God  is  secured. 

Another  Tennessean,  Alex  Haley,  wrote  recently  about  "roots." 
Somewhere  between  the  myth  that  has  grown  in  my  mind,  the 
view  from  a  windy  ridge,  and  the  quiet  of  an  old  mill  stream,  I 
find  McMinn  County.  My  roots,  like  those  of  many  like  me,  are 
found  there.  This  is  our  story. 


j¥: 


c  M  I  N  N  County  covers  420  square  miles  of  south- 
east Tennessee.  It  is  characterized  by  wooded  knobs,  low  ridges, 
panoramic  vistas  punctuated  by  the  distant  peaks  of  the  Unakas 
and  Great  Smokies,  and  a  life-giving  system  of  seven  major  creeks 
which  flow  into  the  Hiwassee  River  along  the  county's  southern 
boundary.  The  woodlands  are  full  of  game,  the  hills  rich  with 
ore,  and  the  creeks  a  source  of  rich  fertilization  for  the  soil,  en- 
ergy for  the  operation  of  machines,  and  transportation. 

It  has  been  a  place  across  the  years  where  Indians,  white  set- 
tlers, and  a  few  slaves  did  not  simply  survive  but  built  lives  that 
held  every  promise  of  being  better  in  the  future.  For  many,  that 
promise  has  been  kept;  for  many  others,  it  continues  to  be 
renewed. 

The  English  poet  William  Wordsworth  was  convinced  that 
the  essence  of  a  place  was  not  really  captured  until  the  beauty 
of  the  natural  geography  was  experienced  first  hand.  For 
Wordsworth  this  experience  came  from  walking  the  country- 
side, and  the  rural  backcountry  areas  in  McMinn  County  can  be 
traversed  today  with  much  the  same  impressions  that  the  Indi- 
ans and  first  settlers  would  have  had  two  centuries  ago.  The  county 
can  be  written  about,  and  such  writing  will  further  knowledge 
about  it;  but  to  really  be  known,  it  must  be  walked,  traversed 


j |-J  LOU  DON 

t-T'X.  COUNTY 


LEGEND 


MCMINN 
COUNTY 


ISU   Cartographic    Servicer.   Laboratory 


(§)    COUNTY  SEAT 
•     Other  Communities 

r*  1  Governmental  Land  Uses 

A™/  Interstate   Route 

•{™\-  Federal   Route 

J\Tjp-  State   Route 

* — n  local  Route 

RAIL  SERVICE 

^^fe  Major  Streams 

SOURCE  Tennessee  Department  ot  Transportation 


McMINN  3 

again  and  again,  until  it  is  experienced  and  known  up  close  and 
personally. 

The  land  is  given  its  character  by  the  Hiwassee  River  which 
forms  its  southern  boundary,  and  by  the  mighty  Tennessee  River 
which  flows  within  only  a  few  miles  of  most  of  the  county's  west- 
ern border.  Six  major  creeks  also  wander  across  the  landscape. 
Consequently,  there  are  a  series  of  ridges  and  sprawling  creek 
valleys.  The  land  is  rich  and  often  lush,  making  conditions  ideal 
for  the  large  farms  that  have  existed  since  the  earliest  settle- 
ments. The  streams  made  a  variety  of  mill  industries  possible, 
and  the  rivers  first  provided  efficient  transportation  and  even- 
tually the  boon  of  cheap  electrical  power  that  attracted  major 
industry  in  later  years. 

The  best  views  are  from  the  ridge  tops,  especially  when  the 
vistas  spread  out  toward  the  east  with  Starr's  Mountain  and  the 
Great  Smokies  rising  as  backdrops.  The  roads  that  lead  out  of 
Etowah  and  Englewood  toward  Tellico  Plains  and  the  northern 
part  of  Polk  County  pass  through  some  of  the  most  beautiful 
countryside  in  all  of  Tennessee — Mecca  Pike  is  aptly  named. 

There  are  other  byways  that  are  well  worth  the  time  spent 
exploring:  northeast  of  Athens  through  the  Mayfield  farms  and 
the  Mount  Harmony  community  toward  Madisonville;  north- 
west of  Athens  along  the  Old  Niota  Road;  from  near  the  Meigs 
County  line  back  through  the  valley  to  Riceville;  the  Piney  Grove 
Road  down  toward  Polk  County  and  then  back  along  what  is  now 
called  the  Bowaters  Road  to  Calhoun.  The  streams  must  be  fished, 
if  only  for  the  quiet  that  is  still  there  and  the  occasional  evidence 
of  an  old  mill.  Wordsworth  would  have  loved  it. 


From  Pre-Indians  Days  to  the  Cherokee  Removal 

There  is  no  way  to  tell  with  precision  how  far  back  into  his- 
tory civilized  life  has  existed  along  the  banks  of  the  Tennessee 
and  major  tributaries  like  the  Hiwassee.  The  farmers  who  tilled 
the  soil  in  the  bottom  land  near  Calhoun  continually  found  skel- 
etal remains  and  artifacts  until  the  1930s  when  the  TVA  dams 
were  built. 


4  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

In  all  likelihood  there  was  habitation  here  as  far  back  as  per- 
haps 6000  bc;  the  period  from  6000-1000  bc  is  often  known  as 
the  Archaic  Period.  In  other  parts  of  the  world  at  this  time  other 
river  civilizations  were  also  coming  into  existence,  notably  along 
the  Nile  in  Egypt,  the  Tigris  and  Euphrates  in  the  ancient  Near 
East,  and  the  Indus  River  valley  in  India. 

A  second  period  of  likely  habitation  is  known  as  the  Wood- 
land Period,  and  sometimes  is  referred  to  as  the  Wigwam  Period 
because  of  the  type  of  dwellings  that  were  constructed.  The  peo- 
ple of  this  period,  approximately  1000  bc-1000  ad,  were  pri- 
marily hunters.  They  are  sometimes  called  "Mound  Builders" 
because  of  their  burial  practices,  and  although  no  major  mounds 
have  been  excavated  in  McMinn  County  itself,  such  mounds  could 
easily  be  obscured,  given  the  rolling  nature  of  the  countryside, 
erosion,  and  the  growth  of  vegetation  over  a  millennium  or  more. 

Several  years  ago  on  an  island  near  the  mouth  of  the  Hi- 
wassee  west  of  Calhoun  two  pieces  of  statuary  closely  resembling 
idols  worshipped  by  the  Aztecs  of  Mexico  were  discovered.  The 
statues  were  characterized  by  wide  open  mouths  just  like  the 
Aztec  sacred  icons.  Since  no  North  American  Indians  were  sup- 
posed to  be  idol  worshipers,  it  was  generally  assumed  that  these 
were  artifacts  left  by  DeSoto  and  his  men  as  they  moved  through 
the  area  in  the  mid- 1500s.  However,  it  could  as  easily  be  that  the 
artifacts  were  relics  of  some  much-older  civilization  that  touched 
the  region. 

Hiwassee  Island,  described  in  the  sesquicentennial  edition  of 
The  Daily  Post-Athenian  as  "an  island  that  parts  the  current  of  the 
Tennessee  River  where  the  yellow  Hiwassee  boils  into  it  from  the 
Big  Smokes," is  an  intriguing  place.  Mounds  as  well  as  pyramidal 
buildings  that  housed  an  intricate  worship  system  and  were 
probably  part  of  a  culturally  advanced  community  have  been 
excavated  here.  In  later  years  Sam  Houston  had  a  home  there. 

A  more  settled  group  of  hunters  and  farmers,  the  Mississippi 
Indians,  appeared  around  1000  ad  throughout  the  state.  This 
group  later  evolved  into  the  more  specific  Creek  tribe  in  the  east 
and  Chickasaw  in  the  west.  The  state  was  traversed  by  trade  routes 
and  warpaths,  some  that  regularly  carried  tribal  movements  from 


McMINN  5 

as  far  away  as  Illinois  and  Florida.  By  1700  the  powerful  Cher- 
okee tribe,  which  is  of  greatest  significance  to  McMinn  County, 
migrated  into  the  area  from  near  the  Great  Lakes  and  drove  the 
Creeks  into  Georgia.  A  lesser  tribe,  the  Yuchi,  from  which  the 
familiar  Meigs  County  name  Euchee  is  derived,  was  also  forced 
to  leave  the  immediate  area. 

The  Cherokees  had  a  tremendously  complex  society.  They 
were  careful  managers  of  their  environment,  humane  in  the  de- 
velopment of  their  tribal  relationships,  and  sensitive  to  the  need 
to  educate  their  children.  Some  of  the  most  important  advances 
of  native  American  civilization,  such  as  the  written  language  de- 
veloped by  the  great  leader  Sequoyah  in  the  early  1800s  and  a 
form  of  self-government  modeled  on  that  of  the  United  States 
Constitution  itself,  were  Cherokee.  Although  the  Cherokees  may 
have  cooperated  with  the  English  in  the  Revolutionary  War  pe- 
riod, by  the  time  of  the  wars  against  the  troublesome  Creeks  and 
Chickamaugas,  and  the  War  of  1812  they  were  actively  involved 
in  the  American  advance. 

One  of  the  most  significant  battles  of  this  period  involved  a 
McMinn  County  native  Cherokee,  John  Walker,  who  will  be  dis- 
cussed in  detail  later.  The  Creeks  of  Georgia  and  Alabama  had 
rallied  to  the  war  cries  of  the  British-inspired  firebrand  Te- 
cumseh.  On  August  17,  1813,  between  250  and  400  settlers  were 
killed  in  the  Fort  Mirns  Massacre  on  the  lower  Alabama  River  in 
Georgia.  As  word  spread  of  this  event,  2500  men  from  the  re- 
gion, both  white  and  Cherokee,  volunteered — here  the  state  of 
Tennessee  got  its  nickname — to  fight  for  Andrew  Jackson.  The 
great  Cherokee  chief,  Junaluska,  gave  the  support  of  his  people 
to  Jackson,  and  on  March  27,  1814,  at  the  Battle  of  Horseshoe 
Bend  nearly  one  thousand  Creek  warriors  were  killed  and  the 
British-Indian  alliance  broken.  John  Walker,  perhaps  the  most 
famous  early  McMinn  Countian,  was  a  major  in  Jackson's  forces. 

John  Hart,  a  white  settler  from  Roane  County,  was  also  a 
commander  of  part  of  Jackson's  Tennessee  volunteers,  and  was 
killed  at  Horseshoe  Bend.  His  son,  also  named  John,  came  to 
McMinn  County  as  a  youth  and  founded  one  of  the  county's  old- 


6  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

est  families.  The  white  settler  and  the  Cherokee  native  found 
many  occasions  to  fight  side  by  side. 

As  will  be  seen,  it  was  mainly  Cherokees  who  intermingled 
with  the  original  white  settlers  in  the  area.  There  were  numerous 
mixed  marriages,  and  by  the  time  written  county  records  began 
to  be  kept  it  would  have  been  difficult  to  find  older  McMinn 
County  families  that  did  not  have  some  specific  Cherokee  line- 
age. This  is  especially  true  of  those  who  settled  in  the  Calhoun 
area.  The  Cherokee  background  is  a  proud  aspect  of  the  county's 
heritage,  and  from  its  inception  one  county  high  school  athletic 
team  has  been  appropriately  known  as  "The  Cherokees." 

Hernando  DeSoto  was  born  soon  after  Columbus  discovered 
the  new  world,  and  he  spent  his  entire  life  consumed  with  ideas 
of  discovery,  exploration,  and  conquest.  He  was  with  Francisco 
Pizarro  in  Peru,  and  Inca  gold  and  jewelry  made  him  wealthy. 
In  1539  he  used  his  fortune  to  finance  an  expedition  to  North 
America  to  find  rumored  cities  of  Indian  gold  and  silver. 

DeSoto  was  appointed  governor  of  Cuba  and  Florida,  which 
was  the  name  used  for  the  entirety  of  the  southeastern  United 
States.  Many  of  the  nearly  1000  men  who  accompanied  DeSoto 
to  America  were  ill-prepared  to  be  frontiersmen;  they  were  often 
affluent  young  Spaniards  whose  thirst  for  gold  outweighed  their 
good  sense.  DeSoto  was  so  insecure  about  their  ability  to  per- 
severe in  the  new  world  that  when  they  disembarked  near  pres- 
ent-day Tampa  Bay  he  ordered  the  ships  to  return  to  Cuba. 

It  is  difficult  to  know  what  word  to  use  to  describe  DeSoto's 
journey  through  the  Southeast.  In  a  sense  the  men  were  ex- 
plorers and  discoverers,  but  in  perhaps  a  more  accurate  view 
they  were  lost  wanderers  at  the  mercy  of  the  environment  and 
the  Indians  who  often  both  befriended  and  harassed  them.  The 
best  evidence  suggests  that  crafty  Indian  chieftains  discovered 
that  promises  of  cities  of  gold  farther  along  kept  the  Spaniards 
moving  and  kept  them  from  being  much  more  than  a  temporary 
inconvenience.  An  occasional  Indian  village  was  looted  or  burned, 
and  there  were  occasional  Indian  raids;  for  the  most  part,  the 
Spaniards  wandered. 

There  is  enough  convincing  evidence,  however,  in  the  chron- 


McMINN  7 

icles  of  the  journey  to  consider  it  a  fact  that  DeSotos  men  came 
into  McMinn  County.  Sometime  in  1540,  the  legend  has  it,  the 
Spaniards  camped  on  high  ground  overlooking  Eastanallee  Creek 
a  short  distance  south  of  Athens.  An  old  paper  mill  stood  there 
in  later  years,  and  the  site — its  historical  value  well-established 
in  the  early  settlers'  minds — was  considered  a  possible  location 
for  the  first  county  seat.  DeSoto  died  in  1541,  and  only  about  300 
of  his  men  survived  to  float  down  the  Mississippi  River  and  find 
their  way  safely  to  Mexico. 

Another  early  Spanish  explorer,  Juan  de  Pardo,  came  close 
to  the  area  in  1566,  building  a  small  fort  near  present-day  Chat- 
tanooga. By  1700  French  traders  regularly  used  the  Tennessee 
and  Hiwassee  to  move  into  the  Carolinas. 

Early  Settlers 

Significant  European  settlement  did  not  occur  until  after  the 
French  and  Indian  War  in  the  early  1760s  when  the  territory  west 
of  the  Appalachians  to  the  Mississippi  came  under  English  con- 
trol, and  more  particularly,  as  regards  McMinn  County,  not  until 
after  the  Revolutionary  War  and  the  Cherokee  treaties  of  the 
early  1800s.  The  closest  English  outpost  before  this  period  was 
built  in  1757  at  Fort  Loudon  in  present-day  Monroe  County,  about 
30  miles  northeast  of  Athens,  to  protect  Cherokee  families  from 
attacks  by  the  French  and  their  Indian  allies.  The  primary  link 
between  people  in  this  region  and  the  outside  world  was  through 
traders. 

Historical  records  for  the  entire  region  from  around  the 
Revolutionary  War  until  1819,  when  the  Cherokees  ceded  the 
Hiwassee  District  to  the  United  States,  are  vague  and  incom- 
plete. Between  the  Revolution  and  1819  there  was  an  influx  of 
settlers.  By  the  time  the  county  seat  was  transferred  from  Cal- 
houn to  Athens  in  1823  excellent  court  records  and  genealogical 
data  began  to  be  kept. 

Perhaps  a  few  representative  examples  of  settlement,  sketchy 
as  they  may  be,  can  help  to  capture  the  spirit  of  this  period.  In 
this  regard  the  Walker  family  history  is  of  greatest  significance, 


8  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

not  only  for  McMinn  County  specifically,  but  because  of  its  link 
to  some  of  the  most  important  personalities  in  the  entire  region. 

With  the  exception  of  Sequoyah  himself,  Nancy  Ward  is  per- 
haps the  most  famous  Cherokee.  She  rivals  Pocahontas  and  Sac- 
kajawea  in  importance.  Her  own  tribe  bestowed  upon  her  the 
title  uBeloved,"the  highest  title  that  a  woman  could  ever  be  given, 
which  implied  status  equal  to  that  of  the  chiefs  themselves.  The 
title  conveyed  almost  mystical,  divine  powers — something  equiv- 
alent to  sainthood  in  modern  vocabularies. 

Nancy  Ward  first  married  an  important  chief  named  King- 
fisher, and  then  an  English  trader  named  Bryan  Ward.  By  King- 
fisher she  had  a  daughter,  Catherine,  who  later  married  a  white 
trader  named  John  Walker.  The  free  use  of  Christian  names  and 
the  marriages  that  occurred  with  increased  frequency  demon- 
strates vividly  the  close  relationship  between  English  and  Cher- 
okee which  was  taking  place  in  the  mid- 1700s. 

John  and  Catherine  Walker  established  a  residence  some- 
where along  the  Hiwassee  in  the  southwestern  area  of  the  county. 
They  had  a  son  who  was  also  named  John,  and  it  is  he  who  be- 
comes the  key  figure.  This  John  Walker  captured  the  attention 
of  Governor  William  Blount  at  the  Battle  of  Buchanan  Station 
in  1792.  Blount  wrote  about  Walker:  "He  has  been  raised  among 
and  by  white  people.  Everyone  who  knows  him  has  the  utmost 
confidence  in  him.  He  is  quite  a  stripling  and  apparently  the 
most  innocent,  good-natured  youth  I  ever  saw." 

The  younger  Walker,  who  had  a  strong  enough  Cherokee 
ancestry  to  be  considered  "Indian," married  Elizabeth  Sevier,  the 
widow  of  Joseph  Sevier,  who  was  the  son  of  John  Sevier,  gov- 
ernor of  the  shortlived  state  of  Franklin  and  the  first  governor 
of  Tennessee.  Elizabeth  herself  was  a  member  of  an  important 
Cherokee  family.  Walker  helped  organize  the  Cherokee  Turn- 
pike Company  in  1806  that  contracted  to  maintain  the  "Georgia 
Road"  which  ran  through  the  area.  He  also  operated  a  ferry  near 
present-day  Calhoun.  At  the  outbreak  of  the  War  of  1812  he  was 
commissioned  a  major  and  received  numerous  commendations 
for  bravery  in  battle. 

Following  the  war,  Walker  returned  to  Calhoun  and  was  in- 


McMINN  9 

strumental  in  all  of  the  treaty  negotiations  which  led  to  the  sur- 
render of  Cherokee  lands  in  Tennessee.  These  negotiations  often 
took  Walker  and  other  major  "chiefs"  to  Washington,  or  "Wash- 
ington City"as  it  was  called,  where  he  met  with  luminaries  of  the 
federal  government  of  that  time,  especially  Secretary  of  War  John 
C.  Calhoun. 

Several  prominent  Indians,  who  were  deemed  "capable"  of 
managing  their  own  affairs,  and  perhaps  to  reward  their  co- 
operation in  the  Hiwassee  Purchase  of  1819,  were  given  choices 
of  640-acre  plots  which  would  be  "reserved"  for  them  in  the  newly 
acquired  territory.  Walker  took  his  "reservation" at  Walkers  Ferry 
and  this  immediately  was  established  as  the  town  of  Calhoun. 
Elizabeth  Lowery  Sevier  Walker,  after  an  unsuccessful  attempt 
at  acquiring  land  in  present-day  Monroe  County,  took  land  north 
of  Calhoun  at  Pumpkintown. 

In  spite  of  a  somewhat  questionable  reputation  at  the  time, 
Pumpkintown  was  designated  the  county  seat  in  December  of 
1823  and  named  Athens.  The  first  organizational  meetings  of 
the  county  were  held  in  Walkers  home  in  Calhoun,  and  he  served 
as  one  of  the  county's  firstjustices  of  the  peace.  The  Walker  name 
has  remained  intact  across  the  years  in  the  county. 

An  example  of  the  European  settlers  in  the  county  is  the  story 
of  another  Calhoun  area  family,  the  Sheltons,  who  trace  their 
American  lineage  to  a  Ralph  Shelton  who  was  born  in  1665  in 
Middlesex  County,  Virginia.  Four  generations  later,  Roderick 
Shelton  served  as  a  private  in  the  Continental  Army  under  Ceorge 
Washington.  His  son,  James,  moved  to  North  Carolina  in  1791; 
his  son,  James,  at  age  18  came  to  Greene  County  in  Tennessee 
and  married  a  Betsy  Lawson.  Around  1810  they  loaded  .all  of 
their  belongings  on  a  flatboat  and  floated  down  the  Tennessee 
to  the  Hiwassee,  and  then  traveled  up  the  Hiwassee  to  a  place 
on  the  McMinn  side  of  the  river  across  from  the  large  Cherokee 
Village  at  present-day  Charleston.  Why  they  decided  to  stop  at 
this  particular  point,  or  if  they  planned  originally  where  their 
journey  would  take  them,  is  not  clear. 

The  Sheltons  erected  a  log  cabin,  had  a  child,  and  soon  there- 
after Betsy  died.  James  enlisted  in  the  army,  fought  beside  Sam 


10  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

Houston  at  Horseshoe  Bend,  and  was  back  in  the  area  by  1816 
when  he  married  Sarah  Hooper.  They  built  a  two-story  frame 
house  near  the  old  log  structure  which  became  a  well-known  his- 
torical site  until  the  TVA  cleared  the  area  in  the  late  1930s. 

It  should  be  repeated  that  the  Walker  and  Shelton  stories  are 
not  unique.  They  are  representative  of  precisely  the  kinds  of 
people,  particularly  of  Cherokee  and  English,  and  later  of  Scotch- 
Irish  descent,  that  would  come  to  live  together  and  populate 
McMinn  County.  The  events  that  punctuate  these  family  histo- 
ries were  undoubtedly  repeated  time  and  again  among  the  first 
families  that  settled  the  county. 

The  United  States  has  always  been  characterized  by  the  great 
mobility  of  its  people.  The  mass  migration  to  the  "Southwest  Ter- 
ritory" in  the  early  nineteenth  century  populated  McMinn  County 
and  all  of  the  lands  to  the  Mississippi  in  this  first  stage  of  "Man- 
ifest Destiny."  A  traveling  missionary,  David  McClure,  described 
a  typical  family  group  as  it  moved  into  the  new  lands: 

The  man  carried  an  ax  and  gun,  the  wife  the  rim  of  a  spinning 
wheel  and  a  loaf  of  bread.  Several  little  boys  and  girls,  each  with 
a  bundle  according  to  their  size.  Two  poor  horses,  each  heavily 
loaded.  On  the  top  of  the  baggage  of  one  was  an  infant,  rocked  to 
sleep  in  a  kind  of  wicker  cage.  A  cow  was  one  of  the  company,  a 
bed-cord  wound  around  her  horns,  and  a  bag  of  meal  on  her  back. 

During  this  same  period  families  arrived  whose  descendants 
are  still  important  in  the  county.  Many  came  because  they  had 
either  purchased  land  grants  or  secured  them  through  military 
service.  Many  of  these  people  were  farmers;  others  followed  as 
traders,  merchants,  or  mill  operators.  It  is  impossible  to  do 
justice  to  this  group  here.  Those  mentioned  are  merely 
representative. 

Asbury  M.  Coffey  was  the  son  of  Eli  Coffey  who  went  into 
Kentucky  with  Daniel  Boone.  He  lived  in  Athens  until  1842  and 
was  instrumental  in  some  of  the  first  railroading  ventures  in  the 
county.  He  married  Mary  Bradford,  the  daughter  of  Colonel 
Henry  Bradford  who  was  a  large  landowner  at  the  now-little- 
known  settlement  of  Columbus  which  once  existed  in  the  south- 


McMINN  11 

ern  part  of  the  county  and  now  is  in  Polk  County.  Coffey  left 
Athens  when  President  Millard  Filmore  appointed  him  to  over- 
see Indian  affairs  in  Kansas;  later,  one  of  his  children  migrated 
to  Oregon. 

Jesse  Mayfield,  whose  family  name  is  now  carried  forward 
by  the  Mayfield  Dairy  Farms,  was  born  in  New  York  in  1770.  He 
secured  several  tracts  of  land  that  became  available  after  the  Hi- 
wassee  Purchase.  One  of  the  purchases,  northeast  of  Athens,  has 
never  left  the  family.  In  fact,  the  original  log  home  which  Jesse 
Mayfield  built  was  restored  and  stood  as  a  county  landmark  on 
the  property  of  his  descendant  Scott  Mayfield  until  it  was  lost  in 
a  fire  early  in  1983. 

One  of  the  most  significant  contracting  and  building  firms 
of  the  Tennessee  frontier  has  close  ties  with  McMinn  County.  In 
1825  Samuel  Clegg  (after  the  Civil  War  the  name  was  spelled 
"Cleage")  settled  in  the  Mouse  Creek  community.  Clegg's  father 
was  from  Pennsylvania,  and  had  become  very  wealthy  building 
mansions  throughout  that  region  in  the  late  1700s.  The  family 
can  trace  its  lineage  back  to  Belfast,  Ireland. 

With  his  son-in-law,  Thomas  Crutchfield,  Clegg  established 
the  firm  that  came  to  be  known  as  "Cleage  and  Crutchfield."  With 
extensive  help  from  slaves  and  using  methods  of  brick  laying 
that  he  had  developed,  Clegg  contributed  substantially  to  the 
architecture  of  East  Tennessee.  Several  buildings  in  Athens  were 
constructed  by  the  firm,  including  the  Mars  Hill  Presbyterian 
Church  and  the  old  Hiwassee  Rail  Road  headquarters  building 
which  still  stands  on  North  Jackson  Street.  The  grand  court- 
house which  dominated  the  town  square  for  the  better  part  of 
the  last  century  was  built  by  Thomas  and  William  Cleage  in  1874. 
At  one  time  the  firm  held  contracts  for  nine  courthouses  in  East 
Tennessee. 

The  Cantrell  family  has  long  been  important  in  the  eastern 
part  of  the  county.  John  Cantrell,  the  first  member  of  the  Can- 
trell family  in  America,  was  from  Pennsylvania  and  had  both 
Huguenot  and  Quaker  antecedents.  Like  many  frontier  fami- 
lies, the  Cantrells  had  a  large  number  of  children:  21  sons  and 


• 


& 


#•" 


9m 


Original  architects  sketch  for  the  county's  first  courthouse. 


McMINN  13 

2  daughters,  who  contributed  to  proliferation  of  the  clan  from 
Pennsylvania  to  Georgia. 

One  family  legend  describes  a  time  when  John  Cantrell  went 
into  a  mercantile  shop  and  asked.to  see  hats  for  boys.  The  mer- 
chant displayed  his  selection  of  about  a  dozen  hats,  whereupon 
Cantrell  stepped  to  the  door  and  called  his  boys  into  the  store. 
Twenty-one  young  men  lined  up  at  the  counter,  and  the  store- 
keeper was  so  flabbergasted  that  he  gave  each  boy  a  new  hat. 

One  old  record  asserted  that  "the  common  wealth  of  Mc- 
Minn  County  has  from  pioneer  days  down  revered  the  name  of 
Cooke."  In  fact,  the  Cooke  ancestry  has  crossed  bloodlines  with 
families  as  well-known  as  that  of  the  English  novelist  Henry 
Fielding  and  the  Tennessee  senator  Estes  Kefauver.  William  Henry 
Cooke  moved  his  family  from  South  Carolina  to  McMinn  County 
in  1820.  He  made  large  land  purchases  in  the  present  Etowah 
area,  operated  an  iron  forge,  and  was  a  surveyor.  He  was  active 
in  laying  out  the  town  of  Athens,  was  a  state  legislator,  and  helped 
start  the  State  Bank  of  Athens.  While  serving  as  the  institutions 
first  president,  he  rode  horseback  every  morning  13  miles  to  town 
and  was  always  on  the  job  by  eight  in  the  morning.  Cooke  was 
also  active  in  the  Meridian  Sun  Lodge  No.  50,  F&AM,  which  was 
always  an  important  institution  in  the  county.  Cooke  and  his  wife 
Mary  had  12  children. 

The  court  records  of  the  first  quarter  century  of  the  county's 
existence  reveal  a  high  reliance  on  the  counsel  and  judgement 
of  Charles  Fleming  Keith.  In  many  respects  he  charted  the  course 
and  established  the  strong  foundation  upon  which  the  county 
rested  for  its  first  century.  Keith  had  been  born  in  Virginia  in 
1781  and  by  age  eighteen  was  a  law  student  with  a  close  relative, 
Charles  Marshall,  who  was  a  brother  of  the  famous  chief  justice 
of  the  United  States  Supreme  Court,  John  Marshall.  By  1819  Keith 
was  a  practicing  attorney  in  Jefferson  County  and  actively  in- 
volved in  the  early  sessions  of  the  Tennessee  Legislature. 

Following  the  Indian  treaties  of  this  period  in  which  he  took 
a  large  part,  Keith  came  to  McMinn  County  where  he  was  a  leader 
in  every  respect — political,  civic,  religious,  and  social.  By  1850 
he  owned  15,000  acres  of  land,  44  slaves,  and  was  the  main  tax- 


14  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

payer  in  the  entire  county.  By  the  time  of  his  death  in  1857,  Keith 
had  performed  the  duties  of  a  federal  judge  longer  than  any 
other  American  with  the  exception  of  Chief  Justice  Marshall 
himself.  A  large  local  Methodist  church  still  carries  the  Keith  name, 
and  Mrs.  Marshall  Keith  resides  today  in  the  stately  Keith  man- 
sion which  is  the  best-known  residence  in  the  county. 

Other  families,  of  no  less  significance  than  the  representative 
examples  noted  here,  have  roots  sunk  deeply  into  the  early  his- 
tory of  America  and  eventually  came  to  McMinn  before  or  near 
the  time  of  its  inception.  The  sequicentennial  edition  of  The  Daily 
Post-Athenian  detailed  several,  including  the  history  of  the  Lane 
family,  whose  forebears,  Isaac  and  Tidence  Lane,  came  to  the 
county  in  the  early  immigrations,  constructed  a  mill  from  Ten- 
nessee-made brick,  owned  a  large  number  of  slaves,  and  finally 
left  the  area  for  lands  in  Mississippi  that  could  produce  more 
cotton.  The  Kimbrough  and  Carlock  families  gave  substance  to 
the  religious  growth  of  the  region.  Clement  Vann  Rogers,  born 
ten  miles  south  of  Athens  on  the  old  W.  C.  Townsend  place,  was 
the  father  of  American  humorist  Will  Rogers.  Other  names  are 
prominent  in  the  Post- Athenian  chronicle:  Ballew,  Barb,  Boone, 
Burn,  Cass,  Cooper,  Dorsey,  Fisher,  Fore,  Gettys,  Gilbreath, 
Guthrie,  Hart,  Hill,  Hoyal,  Lowry,  Love,  Matlock,  Parkinson, 
Shipley,  Smith,  Snider,  Sullins,  and  Wilkins. 

Joseph  McMinn,  for  whom  the  county  was  named,  is  an  ap- 
propriate conclusion  to  this  section.  McMinn  was  born  in  Penn- 
sylvania in  1758  and  migrated  into  the  area  around  1775.  He  was 
active  in  the  first  political  movements  of  the  state  and  involved 
in  the  1796  convention  in  Knoxville  which  drafted  the  proposed 
first  constitution  for  the  state.  McMinn  insisted  that  a  "Bill  of 
Rights"  be  included,  and  he  personally  carried  the  proposed 
constitution  to  President  George  Washington. 

After  serving  in  eight  general  assemblies  and  being  speaker 
of  the  senate  three  times,  McMinn  was  elected  governor  in  1815. 
He  was  reelected  in  1817  and  1819.  Although  plagued  by  fiscal 
problems,  McMinn's  administrations  dealt  rather  successfully  with 
Indian  problems,  advanced  education,  and  actively  supported 


M  cM  INN 


15 


Joseph  McMinn, 
the  three-time  gov- 
ernor of  Tennes- 
see, for  whom  the 
county  is  named 


improvement  of  river  navigation.  He  is  remembered  as  being 
quite  popular  with  the  general  population. 

In  1821  McMinn  returned  to  farming  in  Rogersville,  but  by 
1823  had  accepted  a  position  as  agent  to  the  Cherokees  at 
Charleston's  Fort  Cass.  He  lived  in  Calhoun  and  served  as  agent 
until  his  sudden  death,  which  occurred  while  he  was  writing  at 
his  desk  on  November  17,  1824.  While  in  Calhoun,  McMinn  be- 
came a  member  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  and  it  was  his  desire 
to  be  buried  in  its  graveyard. 

In  an  interesting  aside,  the  grave — like  so  many  — went  un- 
marked, and  just  one  person,  a  Mr.  R.  J.  M.  Only,  knew  its  lo- 


1 6  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

cation.  When,  in  1880,  a  plan  was  proposed  to  dig  up  the  remains 
and  take  them  to  Athens  for  reburial  and  the  erection  of  a  "proper" 
monument,  Mr.  Only  refused  to  show  where  the  grave  was.  Only 
was  an  eccentric  lay  preacher  who  had  supposedly  read  the  Bible 
27  times,  argued  his  interpretations  in  all  kinds  of  public  set- 
tings, and  was  not  beyond  the  convincing  power  of  a  good  fist 
fight.  He  won  the  day  and  the  monument  was  erected  in  the  old 
Presbyterian  cemetery  at  Calhoun  where  it  stands  in  high  visi- 
bility today. 

The  Cherokee  Removal 

Given  the  close  relationship  which  existed  between  the  Eng- 
lish pioneers  and  the  Cherokees,  the  integration  of  the  races 
through  intermarriage  which  by  1800  constituted  a  racial  syn- 
thesis (the  famous  chief,  John  Ross,  was  only  one-eighth  Cher- 
okee) in  many  areas  like  McMinn  County,  and  the  sophistication 
of  the  Cherokee  people,  the  forced  removal  in  the  late  1830s  of 
the  majority  of  the  tribe — which  came  to  be  known  as  the  "Trail 
of  Tears —  is  one  of  the  darkest  spots  in  the  history  of  American 
expansion.  McMinn  County  was  in  the  center  of  the  conflict,  and 
the  best  evidence  suggests  that  the  citizenry  of  that  time  was 
strongly  opposed  to  such  inhumane  and  immoral  activities.  In 
fact,  something  of  the  "states'  rights"  sentiment  that  became  of 
crucial  importance  in  this  area  within  a  generation  may  have  been 
born  at  this  moment. 

Stereotypes  about  primitive  Indians  wandering  around  half- 
naked  must  be  set  aside  when  considering  the  early  nineteenth 
century  Cherokees.  These  were  people  who  were  living  a  settled, 
civilized  existence  that  paralleled  in  every  way  that  of  their  white 
counterparts.  By  1805  Return  J.  Meigs,  for  whom  Meigs  County 
was  named  and  whose  granddaughter  married  John  Walker,  Jr., 
was  taking  care  of  Indian  matters  in  the  area.  First  he  operated 
from  "Old  Agency"  in  present-day  Meigs  County,  and  finally  at 
the  agency  established  across  the  Hiwassee  from  Calhoun  at 
Charleston.  Meigs  attained  a  wide  reputation  for  helping  the 
Cherokees  with  farming,  diversification  of  crops,  raising  of  live- 
stock, and  trade. 


McMINN  17 

Although  large  numbers  of  Cherokees  had  voluntarily  left 
for  new  lands  in  the  West,  by  1828  the  equally  large  number  re- 
maining continued  to  advance  their  own  culture  and  strengthen 
their  relationships  with  the  white  culture.  In  fact,  one  of  the  first 
successful  American  missionary  activities  was  conducted  in  this 
area  with  the  establishment  of  several  mission  schools  which  pro- 
vided education  for  the  Cherokee  children.  Probably  more 
Cherokees  were  educated  in  the  region  at  this  time  than  whites. 

But  early  in  1829  the  entire  picture  changed.  Gold  was  dis- 
covered on  Cherokee  land  in  Georgia  near  Dahlonoga!  Accord- 
ing to  Kenneth  Valliere  in  an  article  on  Jackson  for  the  Tennessee 
Historical  Quarterly:  "Between  four  and  seven  thousand  gam- 
blers, swindlers,  debauchers,  and  profane  blackguards,  with 
morals  as  bad  as  it  is  to  conceive,  overran  the  Cherokee  country." 

The  Georgia  legislature  immediately  claimed  all  Cherokee 
land.  With  a  singlemindedness  that  would  have  made  the  old 
Spanish  conquistadors  proud,  Governor  George  Gilmer  even 
decreed  that  the  land  would  be  given  to  whites  by  lottery  if  the 
Cherokees  could  be  removed.  The  tenor  of  the  conflict  soon  as- 
sumed national  significance.  Andrew  Jackson,  who  had  com- 
manded the  Cherokees  at  Horseshoe  Bend,  had  become  president 
in  1829.  The  Cherokee  chiefs,  thinking  they  had  a  sure  friend 
in  Jackson,  appealed  for  consideration.  Hard-nosed  political 
pragmatist  to  the  end,  Jackson  supported  the  position  of  Georgia. 

The  Cherokees  then  went  to  Washington  and  appealed  to  the 
Supreme  Court  and  John  Marshall — perhaps  given  quick  en- 
trance because  of  the  chief  justices  relationship  with  the  Keith 
family.  The  strongest  supporter  of  the  Cherokee  claim  was  the 
Tennessee  congressman,  Davy  Crockett.  Crockett  poked  cutting 
sarcasm  at  the  whole  idea  of  removal  of  the  Cherokees  by  intro- 
ducing a  bill  calling  for  the  removal  of  the  white  residents  of  East 
Tennessee  to  the  West,  "lest  they  impede  the  territorial  designs 
and  sovereignty  of  the  State  of  Georgia."  In  fact,  in  1832,  the 
Supreme  Court  ruled  in  favor  of  the  Cherokees.  Cartter  Patten 
recalls  in  A  Tennessee  Chronicle  that  the  high  court  ruled:  "The 
Cherokee  Nation  is  a  distinct  community,  occupying  its  own  ter- 
ritory, in  which  the  laws  of  Georgia  can  have  no  force."  There 


1 8  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

was  great  rejoicing  in  the  Cherokee  Nation,  but  the  Cherokees 
did  not  know  of  President  Jackson's  reputed  remark:  "John  Mar- 
shall has  made  his  decision,  now  let  him  enforce  it." 

Even  the  Cherokees  were  set  at  odds  with  each  other.  This 
internal  division  had  a  direct  impact  on  McMinn  County  when 
in  1834  John  Walker,  Jr.,  who  was  also  known  as  "Chief  Jack, "was 
murdered  by  fellow-Cherokee  James  Foreman  after  Walker  had 
undertaken  what  Foreman  considered  unauthorized  negotia- 
tions in  Washington  involving  treaties  that  would  lead  to  removal. 

Foreman,  with  an  accomplice  named  Isaac  Springston,  came 
to  trial  in  Athens,  but  soon  the  question  of  murder  became  sec- 
ondary to  the  question  of  jurisdiction.  Being  quite  sensitive  to 
their  environment,  the  McMinn  jurors  concluded  that  the  mat- 
ter was  wholly  Cherokee  and  that  they  had  all  rights  to  adjudi- 
cate the  case.  However,  as  part  of  their  desire  to  have  higher 
claim  on  the  Indians,  the  United  States  government  got  the 
McMinn  decision  reversed. 

While  the  Cherokees  met  to  raise  money  for  yet  another  ap- 
peal to  the  Supreme  Court,  Foreman  and  Springston,  in  some 
manner  not  a  matter  of  record,  suddenly  were  no  longer  to  be 
found  in  the  Athens  jail.  It  seems  that  "frontier  justice"  prevailed, 
and  that  McMinn  Countians  found  a  subtle  way  of  overruling 
the  United  States  and  affirming  the  stand  that  they  took 
throughout  the  controversy.  Records  indicate  that  Foreman  went 
West,  was  actively  involved  in  seeking  out  and  killing  those  who 
had  agreed  with  the  removal  among  his  own  people,  and  was 
eventually  killed  himself. 

Jackson  sent  the  Reverend  J.  F.  Schermerhorn  into  the  area; 
he  obtained  highly  questionable  treaties  from  impressionable 
splinter  groups  who  were  generally  unauthorized  by  the  tribe  as 
a  whole  and  their  central  leader,  Chief  John  Ross  of  Chatta- 
nooga. Schermerhorn  was  not  beyond  using  whiskey  and  indi- 
vidual bribes  to  get  the  treaties  that  were  ultimately  accepted  by 
the  federal  government  and  enforced  by  General  Winfield  Scott 
and  7000  troops  beginning  in  May  of  1838. 

The  Cherokees  were  corralled  by  the  hundreds  at  Charles- 
ton, Ross'  Landing/Chattanooga,  and  Guntersville,  Alabama. 


McMINN  19 

Citizens  of  McMinn  petitioned  for  an  end  to  the  roundup,  but 
no  relief  was  forthcoming.  An  unidentified  local  missionary  re- 
ported in  his  journal: 

The  Cherokees  are  nearly  all  prisoners.  They  are  dragged  from 
their  houses  and  encamped  in  military  places  all  over  the  area.. 
They  are  allowed  no  time  to  take  with  them  anything  except  the 
clothes  they  have  on.  Well  furnished  houses  are  left  prey  to  plun- 
derers who,  like  hungry  wolves,  follow  in  the  train  of  the  captors. 
These  wretches  rifle  the  houses,  and  strip  the  helpless,  unoffend- 
ing owners  of  all  they  have  on  earth. 

The  following  advertisement  was  placed  in  regional  news- 
papers by  Joseph  Harris,  disbursing  agent  for  the  Cherokee 
Removal  under  the  heading  "Wagons  Wanted": 

Sixteen  first  rate  road  wagons  with  bodies  of  the  largest  kinds, 
each  to  be  drawn  by  first  rate  six  horse  teams  complete  in  gear  and 
harness,  will  find  employment  during  the  removal  of  the  present 
Emigration  of  Cherokees  from  their  homes  to  their  respective 
points;  by  their  owners  of  such  enrolling  their  names  immediately 
at  the  agency. 

Three  dollars  and  fifty  cents  per  day  will  be  allowed  as  a  full 
compensation  for  the  services  of  each  team  and  its  appertenances 
so  employed — a  loaded  team  to  travel  fifteen  miles  per  day,  with- 
out a  load  twenty  miles.  All  ferriages  excepting  over  the  Hiwassee 
to  be  government  charges. 

Before  the  deportation  was  complete,  nearly  5000  Chero- 
kees had  died,  many  from  cold  and  hunger.  Perhaps  a  thousand 
escaped  to  find  refuge  in  the  Tennessee  and  western  North  Car- 
olina mountains.  The  will  of  the  federal  government  ultimately 
triumphed,  and  a  major  segment  of  McMinn  County's  unique 
culture  was  destroyed. 


From  the  Cherokee  Removal  to  the  Civil  War 

The  period  from  the  Cherokee  Removal  to  the  Civil  War  was 
a  time  of  great  growth  in  the  county.  Individuals  emerged  who 
would  make  lasting  contributions.  Finally,  people  began  to  stay 


20  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

rather  than  move  on  to  the  new  frontiers.  The  fixtures  of  civil- 
ization— schools,  churches,  and  political  systems — could  now  be 
given  lasting  foundations. 

Those  present  at  the  organizational  meeting  of  the  county 
on  November  13,  1819,  at  the  home  of  John  Walker  in  Calhoun 
were  Archibald  Black,  Hambright  Black,  George  Colville,  Sam- 
uel Dickey,  Benjamin  Griffith,  Jacob  Sharp,  and  Walker.  The  first 
elected  officials  were  Young  Colville,  clerk;  Spencer  Beavers, 
sheriff;  A.  R.  Turk,  trustee;  Benjamin  Hambright,  registrar; 
Griffith  Dickeson,  ranger;  and  Jacob  Work,  coroner.  Charles 
Fleming  Keith  organized  the  first  court  in  1820.  Goodspeed's//£story 
of  East  Tennessee  (1887)  says  of  Keith  that  "He  was  a  quiet,  unas- 
suming man,  of  sound  judgement,  and  had  a  good  knowledge 
of  the  law;  his  decisions  were  rarely  reversed  by  the  supreme 
court." 

The  first  settlers  of  the  county's  first  town,  Calhoun,  were  the 
Colvilles,  John  Cowan,  Benjamin  Hambright,  E.  P.  Owen,  Eli 
Sharp,  and  A.  R.  Turk.  A  Presbyterian  church  was  erected  in 
1823.  In  this  same  year  Martin  Cassidy  at  Cedar  Springs  was  asked 
to  donate  land  for  a  new  county  seat  that  would  be  centrally  lo- 
cated— he  refused.  Land  was  donated  at  Athens  for  this  purpose 
by  William  Lowry. 

Specific  reports  about  life  in  the  county  between  1834  and 
1852  are  difficult  to  find.  The  1834  edition  of  the  Tennessee  Gaz- 
etteer claimed  a  total  population  of  14,497:  6732  "free  white  males," 
6487  "free  white  females,"  21  "free  colors," and  1257  slaves.  Ath- 
ens, always  the  most  populous  community,  had  a  population  of 
about  500  at  that  time.  Most  professions,  businesses,  and  edu- 
cational institutions  of  that  time  are  represented  in  the  Gazetteer's 
description  of  the  city. 

New  settlers  named  Fyffe  and  Smith  operated  the  first  stores 
in  Athens.  Other  early  merchants  were  Solomon  Bogart,  Francis 
Boyd,  John  Crawford,  Alexander  and  David  Cleage,  George 
Morgan,  and  O.  G.  Murrell.  Joel  Brown  owned  a  tailor  shop, 
and  Peter  Kinder,  a  hattery.  There  were  a  silversmith,  George 
Sehorn,  and  a  coppersmith,  Julius  Blackwell.  Demsey  Casey 


McMINN  21 

owned  a  saddlery,  while  James  Gettys  and  Squire  Johnson  op- 
erated a  tannery. 

The  first  doctors  were  John  Farmer,  Horace  Hickox,  Samuel 
Jordan,  and  Benjamin  Stout.  The  first  attorneys  were  Thomas 
Campbell,  Spencer  Jarnagin  (who  served  in  Congress  under  James 
K.  Polk),  and  Return  J.  Meigs.  Campbell  achieved  statewide  ac- 
claim, as  did  T.  Nixon  Van  Dyke,  who  located  in  Athens  in  1829. 
In  1835  a  branch  of  the  Planters  Bank  was  opened,  and  in  1838 
a  branch  of  the  State  Bank.  The  first  church,  Zion  Hill,  was  built 
by  the  Baptists. 

By  1850,  Goodspeed  reported,  "Athens  was  at  the  height  of 
its  prosperity."  Important  businesses  included:  William  Ballew; 
William  Burns;  A.  Cleage  and  Company;  Grubb  and  Engledow; 
J.  M.  Henderson;  George  Home;  King  and  Crutchfield;  Mc- 
Ewin  and  Gillespie;  John  McGaughey;  A.  McKeldin;  Moss  and 
Jackson;  J.  K.  Reeder;  Robeson,  Sartain  and  Company;  George 
Ross;  Sehorn  and  Hornsby;  and  W  C.  Witt  and  Company.  C. 
Zimmerman  established  a  foundry  about  1852,  and  the  Meth- 
odist Episcopal  female  college  was  enjoying  a  growing  reputation. 

Smaller  communities  developed  as  railroads  came  into  the 
county.  Riceville  (on  land  donated  by  Charles  W  Rice),  Sanford, 
and  Mouse  Creek  (Niota)  all  started  as  sites  of  railroad  stations 
and  soon  attracted  small  businesses  and  homes.  Mouse  Creek 
was  particularly  prosperous.  J.  H.  Magill  opened  the  first  store 
there  in  1855.  Other  merchants  in  the  area,  according  to  Good- 
speed,  were  E.  Gate,  J.  N.  Dalzell,  A.  Forrest,  and  Stephens  8c 
Browder.  Early  settlers  at  Mouse  Creek  included  Greenbury  Cate, 
L.  R.  Hurst,  J.  L.  Hurst,  John  F.  Sherman,  H.  L.  Shultz,  and 
James  Willson.  Many  of  the  descendants  of  these  people  remain 
important  in  the  northern  part  of  the  county. 

The  Coming  of  War 

The  years  immediately  preceeding  the  Civil  War  were  a  time 
of  great  drama  for  the  nation.  However,  the  war  was  uniquely 
accentuated  in  East  Tennessee  and  in  counties  like  McMinn.  It 
is,  of  course,  common  knowledge  that  the  proverbial  "brother 


22 


Tennessee  County  History  Series 


The  remains  of  the  Gettys  Mill  on  the  Eastanallee  near  Sanford 

against  brother"  division  of  loyalties  between  North  and  South 
occurred  throughout  this  area  more  often  than  perhaps  any  place 
in  the  entire  nation.  It  took  years  to  relax  hard  and  fast  political 
lines  that  had  been  drawn  between  "secessionists"and  "Unionists" 
in  early  1860.  McMinn  County  played  a  unique  role  in  these 
activities. 

Before  that  uniqueness  is  explored,  one  common  miscon- 
ception must  be  cleared  up.  It  is  often  thought  that  the  major 
issue  dividing  Tennessee  was  slavery,  and  that  East  Tennessee 
had  fewer  large  farms  and  therefore  less  need  for  slaves  than 
Middle  and  West  Tennessee.  There  is  information  to  undergird 
this  view,  and  undoubtedly  it  did  play  at  least  some  role.  In  1840 
there  were  only  19,915  slaves  in  East  Tennessee;  this  number  in- 
creased to  only  27,500  by  1860.  Comparable  figures  in  Middle 
Tennessee  show  an  increase  from  106,640  to  148,000,  and  in  West 
Tennessee  an  increase  from  56,600  to  100,200. 


McMINN  23 

By  1860  East  Tennessee  had  only  10  percent  of  the  states  slave 
population  and  only  9  percent  of  the  population  of  the  region 
was  slave.  These  numbers  are  quite  small  compared  to  the  other 
major  divisions  of  the  state.  McMinn  County  in  1860  had  124 
slaveholders  who  owned  678  slaves.  As  early  statistics  indicate, 
this  number  had  decreased  by  almost  50  percent  since  1834. 

However,  East  Tennessee  can  in  no  way  be  construed  as  a 
hotbed  of  abolitionist  sentiment.  Most  of  the  strong  Unionists 
were  slaveholders.  Abolitionist  movements  like  the  one  at  Mary- 
ville  College  in  nearby  Blount  County  were  not  well  received. 
There  is  at  least  one  account  of  abolitionist  tracts  coming  to  the 
Athens  post  office  and  being  turned  over  by  the  postmaster  to 
people  in  the  streets  who  burned  them. 

The  dominant  idea  seemed  to  be  that  slavery  could  continue, 
and  that  the  lot  of  the  slave  could  be  improved  and  protected  by 
law.  Paul  Bergeron  reports  on  two  interesting  cases  in  this  re- 
gard. In  one,  a  slave  convicted  of  rape  by  a  lower  court  was  ac- 
quitted by  the  state  supreme  court,  and  the  lower  court  was 
severely  criticized  for  misconduct.  In  the  second,  a  Washington 
County  man  willed  his  112  acre  farm  to  slaves,  rather  than  his 
seven  sons,  and  gave  the  slaves  their  freedom.  When  the  sons 
sued,  the  courts  upheld  the  claim  of  the  slaves.  One  state  su- 
preme court  decision,  quoted  by  Bergeron,  read: 

The  law  takes  the  slave  out  of  the  hands  of  the  master  and  treats 
the  slave  as  a  rational  and  intelligenthuman  being,  responsible  to 
moral,  social,  and  municipal  duties  and  obligations,  and  gives  him 
the  benefit  of  all  the  forms  of  trial  which  jealousy  of  power  and 
love  of  liberty  have  induced  the  free  man  to  throw  around  himself 
for  his  own  protection. 

This  middle-of-the-road  policy  was  probably  more  appeal- 
ing to  McMinn  Countians.  In  fact,  they  may  originally  have  had 
a  perspective  on  this  issue  that  was  even  more  liberal.  In  1834  a 
new  state  constitution  was  drafted.  A  gradual  emancipation  pro- 
vision was  introduced  and  supported  by  the  signatures  of  1800 
leading  citizens  from  16  counties — McMinn  was  one  of  them. 
Eventually  the  constitutional  convention,  by  a  vote  of  44  to  10, 


24  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

disallowed  the  provision.  The  McMinn  delegation  cast  one  of  the 
10  supporting  votes. 

Bv  the  1850s  the  emancipation  position  was  essentially  over. 
Secessionists  painted  the  northern  abolitionists  as  meddlers  and 
demagogues  who  would  like  nothing  better  than  to  start  infring- 
ing upon  the  privacy  of  internal  state  matters.  The  challenging 
issue  had  become  states  rights.  Abraham  Lincoln  was  seen 
as  a  frighteningly  malicious  usurper  of  independence.  Seces- 
sionists created  an  exaggerated  image  of  abolitionists  much  like 
Joseph  McCarthy  created  of  communists  a  hundred  years  later. 

Strict  Unionists  held  doggedly  to  their  positions  out  of  a  deep- 
seated  sense  of  loyalty.  Their  ancestors  had  fought  and  died  for 
this  Union  at  Kings  Mountain  and  Horsehoe  Bend.  They  were 
convinced  that  without  strong  centralization  no  government  could 
endure,  and  they  understood  the  consequences  of  a  civil  war. 
They  were  disciples  of  Henry  Clay  and  Daniel  Webster,  and  largely 
disdained  John  Calhoun's  states  rights  views — Calhoun  had  been 
too  dictatorial  for  many,  especially  in  McMinn  County,  in  some 
of  his  dealings  with  the  Indians. 

Unfortunately,  the  march  of  events  quickened.  On  Decem- 
ber 20,  1860,  the  "Convention  of  South  Carolina"  passed  what 
was  termed  with  great  fanfare  an  "Ordinance  of  Secession. "Has- 
tily, to  preserve  some  presence  in  the  area,  the  United  States  Army 
took  control  of  an  antiquated  harbor  garrison,  Fort  Sumter — 
the  lines  of  inevitable  conflict  were  drawn. 

Other  southern  leaders  called  for  similar  conventions,  and 
none  was  louder  than  Governor  Isham  G.  Harris  of  Tennessee. 
Harris  had  been  actively  involved  in  the  1860  presidential  cam- 
paign of  John  C.  Breckenridge,  who  held  the  most  extreme 
southern  views.  Early  in  January  of  1861  Harris  convened  the 
Tennessee  General  Assembly  and  with  a  fusillade  of  disdain  pro- 
claimed vengeance  against  the  Unionist  position.  He  called  for 
a  vote  on  February  9  to  determine  whether  Tennessee  would 
have  its  own  convention  to  discuss  secession. 

One  could  have  easily  predicted,  by  looking  at  the  election 
returns  in  1860,  the  quandary  in  which  McMinn  Countians  would 
find  themselves.  Breckenridge  had  failed  to  carry  Tennessee,  being 


McMINN  25 

defeated  by  the  Whig/Consitutional  Union  candidate  John  Bell 
in  a  vote  of  69,176  to  64,809.  In  East  Tennessee,  that  vote  had 
been  22,043  to  18,800,  and  in  McMinn  County  986  to  978— the 
closest  race  in  the  entire  state.  Bell  had  strong  Union  loyalty  at 
the  time  of  the  election,  but  it  must  also  be  recalled  that  he  was 
a  native  Tennessean  in  the  race. 

There  commenced  one  of  the  most  memorable  times  in  the 
states  history,  and  especially  in  the  swing  area  of  East  Tennessee. 
The  East  Tennessee  and  Georgia  Railroad  cut  across  the  western 
section  of  the  county,  and  had  major  stations  at  Niota,  Athens, 
and  Riceville.  Some  of  the  most  powerful  political  voices  in  the 
nation  came  to  East  Tennessee  on  the  railroad.  Speeches  that 
went  on  for  hours  were  typical.  The  Unionist  leaders  were  men 
of  such  high  status  as  Andrew  Johnson  (then  a  senator,  but  vice- 
president  four  years  later),  Horace  Maynard,  T  A.  R.  Nelson, 
O.  P.  Temple,  and  C.  F.  Trigg. 

The  secessionist  leaders,  in  addition  to  Governor  Harris,  were 
equally  commanding  in  their  presence:  John  Crozier,  Thomas 
Lyon,  William  Sneed,  William  Swan,  Campbell  Wallace,  and 
William  Yancy.  Wallace  was  the  president  of  the  railroad  which 
until  1855  had  been  headquartered  in  Athens — his  was  a  familiar 
face  throughout  the  county.  The  train  depots  and  the  court- 
house square  were  scenes  of  continual  rhetoric  and  debate.  Oc- 
casionally there  were  threats,  fist  fights,  and  even  gunfire  as  the 
voting  day  came  closer. 

The  total  vote  in  the  referendum  of  February  9  was  a  mere 
54.5  percent  against  the  convention,  but  in  East  Tennessee  it  was 
81  percent  against.  In  McMinn  County  the  vote  was  439  for  and 
1457  against.  Memphis  and  Nashville  continued  as  centers  of 
Confederate  support,  Memphians  at  one  time  discussing  their 
own,  private  secession.  Knoxville  and  Greeneville  were  centers 
of  Unionist  sentiment.  Governor  Harris  continued,  undaunted, 
in  his  desire  to  bring  the  state  into  the  Confederacy. 

Lincoln  took  office  in  March  of  1861  and  then  ordered  relief 
for  the  beseiged  Fort  Sumter  in  early  April.  On  April  12  the  Con- 
federate forces  fired  on  Sumter,  and  Lincoln  responded  by  call- 
ing for  75,000  volunteers  to  rise  to  the  defense  of  the  Union.  In 


26  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

less  than  two  weeks,  Harris  reconvened  the  General  Assembly 
and  a  second  vote  on  separation  was  planned  for  June  8. 

The  speech-making  began  again  with  a  greater  intensity.  Now 
Confederate  soldiers  in  uniform  were  gallantly  paraded  before 
impassioned  youth,  and  the  specter  of  75,000  northern  soldiers 
pouring  through  Cumberland  Gap  was  raised  again  and  again. 

Even  John  Bell,  the  stalwart  Whig,  finally  succumbed  to 
secessionist  pressure  to  take  up  its  cause.  In  a  speech  at  Athens 
in  early  June  he  spoke  half-heartedly  about  secession  and  then 
turned  apologetically  to  his  Unionist  friend  from  McMinn  County, 
John  McGaughey,  and  said:  "There  is  my  friend,  Mr.  Mc- 
Gaughey,  between  whom  and  myself  there  used  to  be  no  differ- 
ence in  our  view.  I  know  not  how  he  stands  in  reference  to  these 
new  questions."  McGaughey  replied  in  his  gentle,  earnest  voice: 
"I  am  still  for  the  Union,  the  Constitution,  and  the  enforcement 
of  the  laws."  Many  shared  McGaugheys  sentiments,  in  spite  of 
the  escalation  of  events.  On  May  30  the  "East  Tennessee  Con- 
vention" was  held  in  Knoxville  to  support  the  Union  cause. 
McMinn  County  had  24  delegates;  one  of  them,  Dr.  M.  R.  May, 
was  chosen  one  of  the  vice-presidents.  George  Bridges  was 
appointed  to  a  reporting  committee  which  produced  a  scalding 
indictment  of  the  state  legislature  for  its  drift  toward  the 
Confederate  cause. 

In  the  referendum  of  June  8,  Middle  and  West  Tennessee 
voted  overwhelmingly  for  seccession,  while  East  Tennessee  voted 
more  than  two  to  one  to  remain  in  the  Union.  In  McMinn  County 
the  vote  was  904  for  seccession  and  1,144  against.  With  the  ma- 
jority of  McMinn  County  and  East  Tennessee  remaining  loyal, 
there  was  a  final  effort;  a  Unionist  convention  was  held  at 
Greeneville  on  June  17  to  protest  severe  voting  irregularities. 
The  document  prepared  by  this  convention  was  dramatic,  a  pro- 
found political  treatise  in  the  finest  of  the  American  tradition. 
Unfortunately,  the  Greenveville  convention  was  ineffectual — the 
die  was  cast.  The  McMinn  delegates  to  this  convention  were  M. 
D.  Anderson,  G.  W  Bridges,  A.  C.  Derrick,  and  John  McGaughey. 

The  most  striking  Unionist  spokesman,  however,  has  not  been 
discussed  and  it  is  this  personality  that  provides  the  focal  point 


McMINN  27 

of  McMinn  County's  unique  contribution  to  this  period.  The  set- 
ting for  the  appearance  of  the  spokesman  was  the  old  Methodist 
Episcopal  campground  two  miles  south  of  Athens  at  Cedar 
Springs.  In  his  memoirs  Dr.  David  Sullins,  who  was  born  in 
Athens  in  1827,  described  the  campground  and  the  events  that 
transpired  there: 

There  was  a  small  log  church,  and  a  shed  one  hundred  feet  long 
and  twenty-five  feet  wide,  with  wings  on  hinges.  When  these  wings 
were  down,  it  was  a  great  tent,  and  when  they  were  up,  it  would 
seat  two  thousand.  The  tents  were  rude  shacks  made  of  logs,  some 
still  with  the  bark  on.  There  were  no  fireplaces.  Beds  were  scaf- 
folds along  the  sides  of  the  tents.  All  floors  were  dirt,  covered  with 
straw.  At  daybreak  each  morning,  a  loud  horn  sounded,  at  which 
time  all  arose  and  prepared  for  the  day.  Service  hours  were  at  9:30 
a.m.,  11:00  a.m.,  3:00  p.m.,  and  "candle-lighting." 

Into  this  scene  stepped  William  G.  "Parson"  Brownlow,  who  was 
the  minister  of  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church,  South,  in 
Athens,  the  forerunner  of  the  present  Keith  Memorial  United 
Methodist  Church. 

Brownlow  was  described  as  stepping  into  the  pulpit,  remov- 
ing his  gunbelt  and  pistol,  and  preaching  "hell-fire  and  brim- 
stone." The  parson  eventually  led  the  Unionist  movement  in  East 
Tennessee  as  editor  of  The  Knoxville  Whig.  He  spent  most  of  the 
war  years  speaking  in  the  North,  hiding  in  Knoxville,  and  a  short 
time  in  a  Confederate  prison.  His  wife  was  forced  to  move  North, 
and  his  son  was  arrested  for  possessing  and  circulating  an  out- 
lawed book,  Impending  Crisis  in  the  South.  Typical  of  the  division 
that  was  occurring,  the  charges  against  the  younger  Brownlow 
were  brought  by  Gen.  James  T  Lane  of  McMinn  County. 

Following  one  imprisonment  and  an  eventual  escape  to  safety 
behind  Union  lines  in  March  of  1862  Brownlow  proclaimed:  "Glory 
to  God  in  the  highest,  and  on  earth  peace,  good  will  towards 
men,  except  for  a  few  hell-bent  and  hell-bound  rebels  in  Knox- 
ville." This  was  indicative  of  Brownlow's  style.  He  was  always  on 
the  attack.  He  had  once  written  defiantly  in  The  Whig: 

I  have  been  expected  to  state  in  every  issue  of  my  paper,  that  the 


28  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

mantle  of  Washington  sits  well  on  Jeff  Davis!  This  would  be  a  funny 
publication.  The  bow  of  Ulysses  in  the  hands  of  a  pygmy!  The 
robes  of  a  giant  adorning  Tom  Thumb!  The  curls  of  Hyperion  on 
the  brow  of  a  Satyr!  The  Aurora  Borealis  on  a  cotton  farm  melting 
down  the  icv  North!  This  would  be  to  metamorphose  a  minnow 
into  a  WHALE! 

"Parson"  Brownlow  served  as  the  first  postwar  governor  of 
Tennessee.  He  was  successful  in  introducing  black  suffrage  in 
the  state,  and  moved  with  deliberation  to  get  Tennessee  back  into 
the  Union — it  was  the  first  state  to  be  readmitted.  In  1869,  after 
reelection  and  the  strong  opposition  of  Nathan  Bedford  For- 
rest's Ku  Klux  Klan  with  its  desire  to  enfranchise  ex-Confeder- 
ates, Brownlow  resigned  to  become  a  United  States  senator. 

Brownlow  was  succeeded  by  De Witt  C.  Senter  from  McMinn 
County.  Senter  alleviated  tensions  by  reestablishing  civil  rather 
than  military  courts  and  by  advancing  the  cause  of  Confederate 
suffrage.  Senter  was  successful  enough  that  the  Ku  Klux  Klan 
wras  ordered  by  its  Grand  Wizard  to  destroy  its  robes  and  dis- 
band. Because  of  his  quick  conciliatory  actions,  reconstruction 
in  Tennessee  did  not  go  through  the  same  kind  of  painful  ex- 
periences common  in  most  of  the  south. 

The  Civil  War 

Immediately  following  the  events  at  Fort  Sumter,  frenzied 
activity  began.  In  fact,  Governor  Harris  probably  had  already 
executed  a  series  of  pacts  with  the  Confederate  leaders  and  had 
been  actively  recruiting  soldiers  in  Middle  and  West  Tennessee. 
Although  most  Tennesseans  wore  the  Confederate  gray,  at  least 
35,000  East  Tennesseans  joined  the  Union  forces. 

The  Confederacy  would  have  profited  greatly  if  the  people 
of  East  Tennessee  had  come  solidly  into  line.  Because  they  did 
not,  the  South  lost  a  large  number  of  dedicated  fighting  men.  It 
also  had  to  contend  with  the  continual  victimization  of  a  major 
north-south  thoroughfare  by  secret  agents,  guerrillas,  and — at 
the  very  minimum — many  unfriendly  farmers  and  merchants, 
whose  daily  harassment  and  inconvenience  impeded  the  prac- 


McMINN  29 

tical  movements  of  large  masses  of  men.  Some  estimates  have 
been  made  that,  at  any  one  time,  between  eight  and  ten  thousand 
Confederate  troops  had  to  be  kept  in  East  Tennessee  to  manage 
public  dissent.  McMinn  County,  with  perhaps  a  small  majority 
of  its  own  citizens  in  gray,  was  typical  of  the  prevailing  Union 
sentiment  of  East  Tennessee. 

Fighting  forces  began  to  organize  into  infantry,  cavalry,  and 
artillery  units.  Sometimes  units  were  organized  over  wide  geo- 
graphical areas,  but  most  fighting  units  were  organized  by  local 
men  who  appealed  to  their  friends  and  neighbors.  In  this  way, 
it  was  not  unusual  for  lifelong  friends  and  relatives  to  fight  to- 
gether throughout  the  war.  Union  companies,  however,  were  not 
actually  formed  in  the  county  until  late  in  the  war  when  its  out- 
come was  fairly  well  assured. 

Eight  important  Confederate  units  were  specifically  formed 
from  within  the  county.  Company  A  of  the  3rd  (Brazeltons)  Ten- 
nessee Cavalry  Battalion  was  organized  on  August  3,  1861,  with 
James  C.  Bradford  as  major  and  J.  A.  Gouldy  as  captain.  One  of 
their  first  assignments  was  to  go  into  Clay  County,  Kentucky,  to 
a  salt  mine  and  get  two  hundred  barrels  of  salt.  In  some  respects, 
salt  was  as  important  to  an  army  as  bullets.  This  unit  fought  at 
the  Battle  of  Fishing  Creek,  and  was  active  later  in  the  war 
throughout  the  Cumberland  Gap  area.  Company  B  of  the  16th 
Tennessee  Cavalry  Battalion  was  organized  at  Athens  on  May  31, 
1862,  under  the  leadership  of  John  R.  Neal  and  E.  W.  Rucker, 
but  little  is  known  about  this  units  activities. 

Company  I  of  the  1st  (Rogers)  East  Tennessee  Cavalry  Reg- 
iment was  also  organized  within  the  county.  The  unit  had  a  be- 
leaguered and  lackluster  war  record  which  prompted  Gen.  Kirby 
Smith  officially  to  record  his  belief  that  the  large  number  of  Union 
friends  and  relatives  which  members  of  this  unit  had  rendered 
them  ineffective  in  carrying  out  the  demands  of  combat.  One 
wonders  if  such  a  feeling  might  not  have  prevailed  among  many 
of  the  soldiers  from  the  county. 

Willie  Lowry  and  W.  P.  H.  McDermott  organized  Company 
H  of  the  19th  Tennessee  Infantry  Regiment.  First  fighting  at 
Fishing  Creek,  the  unit  then  faced  major  action  at  Vicksburg. 


30  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

There  they  attempted  a  surprise  attack  through  almost  impen- 
etrable swamps.  The  suspected  Union  force  turned  out  to  be  a 
hoax,  but  a  major  part  of  the  regiment  was  lost  or  rendered  in- 
effective by  the  terrible  conditions.  The  unit  suffered  94  cas- 
ualities  out  of  a  little  over  two  hundred  men  at  Chickamauga, 
but  was  still  able  to  have  said  about  it  at  Missionary  Ridge  and 
the  retreat  toward  Atlanta:  "The  19th  was  never  once  driven  from 
any  position  to  which  it  was  assigned."  After  fighting  in  almost 
every  major  battle  of  the  Army  of  Tennessee,  only  64  men  were 
left  at  the  time  of  the  surrender  at  Appomatox. 

Three  other  units  also  saw  major  action  at  Vicksburg.  Com- 
pany F  of  the  39th  (W.  M.  Bradford's)  Tennessee  Infantry  Reg- 
iment, which  was  mustered  at  Mouse  Creek  on  March  17,  1862, 
under  Albartus  Forrest  and  John  C.  Neil,  twice  took  pleasure 
boats  fitted  with  cannon  and  captured  Union  gunboats.  At  the 
end  of  the  war,  this  unit  was  acting  as  a  protective  escort  for  Jef- 
ferson Davis.  Company  H  of  the  43rd  Tennessee  Infantry  Reg- 
iment, which  was  organized  at  Riceville  on  November  16,  1861, 
fought  with  Jubal  Early,  participated  in  his  raid  on  Washington 
in  1864,  and  counted  972  holes  in  its  unit  flag  at  Vicksburg.  Fi- 
nally, three  local  companies,  A,  H,  and  K,  of  the  59th  Tennessee 
Infantry  Regiment,  under  James  B.  Cooke  and  John  M.  Van  Dyke 
were  described  in  official  communications  following  Vicksburg: 
"During  these  47  days,  under  the  terrific  fire  of  the  enemy's  ar- 
tillery and  infantry,  the  officers  and  men  bore  themselves  with 
constancy  and  courage.  Often  half-fed,  and  ill-clothed,  exposed 
to  the  burning  sun  and  soaking  rain,  they  performed  their  duty 
cheerfully  and  without  murmur." 

Twelve  Union  companies  were  formed  in  the  county  and  as- 
signed to  four  different  regiments.  It  should  also  be  remem- 
bered that  many  from  the  county  who  fought  for  the  Union  did 
so  by  going  North  and  joining  forces  from  other  areas.  While 
the  activities  of  the  six  companies  of  the  7th  Tennessee  Mounted 
Infantry  Regiment  will  be  detailed  later,  some  mention  of  the 
activities  of  the  other  units  has  found  its  way  into  official  war 
records. 

Company  M  of  the  9th  Tennessee  Cavalry  Regiment  was 


McMINN  31 

mustered  in  Nashville  on  June  28,  1864.  At  one  time  in  1865  the 
unit  was  ordered  to  take  and  execute  prisoners,  especially  if  it 
was  determined  that  they  were  guerrillas  and  bushwackers.  Evi- 
dence suggests  that,  since  they  were  operating  in  their  own  ter- 
ritory, they  refused  to  carry  out  the  orders  with  the  severity 
commanded. 

Companies  C,  D,  and  I  of  the  10th  Tennessee  Cavalry  Reg- 
iment saw  extensive  action  in  Middle  Tennessee,  especially  against 
Generals  "Fighting  Joe"  Wheeler  and  Nathan  Bedford  Forrest. 
At  one  time  they  were  in  the  saddle  for  eight  days  and  nights 
against  Forrest  and  traveled  over  two  hundred  miles  fighting 
one  skirmish  after  another.  Finally,  Companies  A  and  D  of  the 
5th  Tennessee  Mounted  Infantry  Regiment,  which  was  mus- 
tered at  Riceville,  Calhoun,  Cleveland,  and  Athens  in  October 
and  November  of  1864  under  Spencer  Boyd  and  James  S.  Brad- 
ford, saw  limited  action  during  the  latter  part  of  the  war  in 
northern  Georgia. 

These  units  were  engaged  in  a  multitude  of  major  conflicts 
and  a  continual  series  of  smaller  skirmishes.  McMinn  Countians 
were  present  at  Shiloh,  Manassas,  Vicksburg,  Chickamauga, 
Missionary  Ridge,  and  Knoxville.  They  faced  the  finest  generals 
and  bravest  troops  on  both  sides  of  the  conflict.  The  records  speak 
of  deaths,  wounds,  imprisonments,  exchanges,  and  returns  home. 

No  major  battles  occurred  in  the  county  itself.  At  most  there 
were  small  skirmishes  that  received  little  notice  in  the  official 
reports.  There  were  gun  emplacements  and  bunkers  on  Depot 
Hill  in  Athens  to  protect  the  railroad  station,  and  there  is  some 
indication  that  fights  occurred  at  this  spot  from  time  to  time  as 
the  town  changed  hands  many  times  during  the  war. 

To  assume  from  the  absence  of  major  battles  that  the  county 
was  relatively  untouched  by  the  war  would  be  misleading.  The 
cataclysmic  impact  that  a  movement  of  ten  to  twenty  thousand 
troops  through  an  area  would  have  is  hard  to  imagine.  In  ad- 
dition, fighting  did  not  generally  take  place  during  the  winter 
months  and  an  entire  region  could  become  responsible  for  "win- 
tering" troops.  The  strain  on  the  already  meager  food  supplies 
and  shelter  was  phenomenal.  McMinn  County  was  at  the  heart 


32  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

of  these  kinds  of  activities,  involving  both  Northern  and  South- 
ern armies,  throughout  the  course  of  the  war. 

Farmlands  were  ravaged,  fences  destroyed,  spoils  were  taken 
on  both  sides,  and  individual  fortunes  that  had  been  established 
since  the  first  settlement  were  steadily  depleted.  The  presence 
of  the  railroad  line  insured  this,  and  concerns  about  protection 
or  disruption  of  vital  rail  services  kept  troops  in  the  area.  In  ad- 
dition, lawless  hoodlums,  termed  "bushwackers,"  used  the  dis- 
organization of  the  war  to  carry  out  personal  vendettas, 
plundering  Unionist  and  Confederate  alike.  One  of  the  worst  of 
this  type,  a  man  named  John  P.  Gatewood,  was  christened  in 
legend  "The  Red-headed  Beast  from  Georgia,"  and  operated  with 
a  band  of  fifty  Confederate  deserters  in  this  immediate  area. 

The  region  was  not  burned  over  like  Atlanta  and  southeast- 
ern Georgia.  In  fact,  Gen.  William  T  Sherman  himself  operated 
from  the  county  for  a  period  after  the  battles  at  Chattanooga 
and  Knoxville  and  before  his  march  to  the  sea.  He  used  the  Bridges 
Hotel  in  Athens  as  his  headquarters  and  seemed  to  develop  some 
real  affection  for  the  town.  After  the  war  the  area  was  left  drained 
and  poor,  and  "reconstruction"  would  have  to  mean  much  more 
than  political  reorganization. 

The  Van  Dyke  mansion,  which  still  stands  on  the  Maxwell 
White  property  overlooking  Cedar  Grove  Cemetery,  was  also  used 
by  Sherman.  This  would  have  been  the  highest  insult  for  the 
property's  owner,  T  Nixon  Van  Dyke,  who  was  the  staunchest  of 
Southerners.  Van  Dyke  was  an  important  judge,  a  central  figure 
in  the  government  of  the  Confederacy,  and  was  imprisoned  along 
with  his  wife  for  several  years  following  the  war.  He  refused  to 
ask  for  a  pardon  and  was  freed  only  after  other  members  of  his 
family  sought  the  intervention  of  President  Andrew  Johnson. 
Van  Dyke,  who  refused  to  shave  until  the  full  independence  of 
the  Confederacy  could  be  attained,  is  remembered  as  having  a 
beard  that  finally  had  to  be  hung  back  across  his  shoulders. 

When  Sherman  arrived,  he  found  the  home  occupied  only 
by  a  group  of  women,  all  their  husbands  being  off  fighting  in 
the  Southern  cause.  He  felt  that  Athens  was  no  fit  place  for  women 


McMINN 


33 


The  Van  Dyke  mansion,  where  Sherman  stayed  during  the  Civil  War 

who  were  alone  under  the  present  circumstances  of  war  and 
issued  passes  that  allowed  for  passage  through  Northern  lines 
to  the  home  of  kinfolk  in  Quincy,  Illinois. 

Earlier  in  the  war,  a  campfire  had  been  spotted  late  one  eve- 
ning on  the  hill  at  the  top  of  the  cemetery.  Mrs.  William  Dead- 
erick  Van  Dyke  climbed  the  hill  to  inquire  about  which  army  the 
soldiers  represented.  The  reply  that  came  back  through  the  dim 
light:  "Colonel  Nathan  Bedford  Forrest,  ma'am,  at  your  service." 

Several  examples  can  be  given  to  help  recall  what  daily  chal- 
lenges the  citizenry  faced  during  the  war.  Protecting  belongings, 
particularly  horses  and  cattle,  from  the  armies  was  a  major  prob- 
lem. My  grandfather  recalled  that  every  time  an  army  came  near, 
he,  a  child  of  eight  or  nine  years,  was  given  the  responsibility  of 
taking  the  family  mule  to  a  hiding  place  that  had  been  cut  out 
in  a  nearby  canebreak.  This  Moses-in-the-bullrushes  tactic  pre- 


34  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

served  something  that  may  have  been  much  more  essential  to 
the  lives  of  the  general  population  than  any  ideological  allegiances. 

On  a  larger  scale,  the  Wattenbargers  who  had  a  reputation  as 
fine  merchants  of  North  Athens  in  later  years,  were  known  for 
their  excellent  stock  breeding  and  trading  during  the  war  era.  Leg- 
end has  it  that  the  family  hit  upon  the  tactic  of  keeping  the  best 
stock  well-hidden  and  a  blind  mule  and  an  old  horse  with  a  plaster 
patch  on  its  back  on  public  display.  Soldiers  would  be  told  that  this 
was  all  that  was  left  of  the  stock,  and  that,  in  fact,  the  horse  had  a 
"strange  infection"  that  they  were  having  to  treat.  Usually  the  sol- 
diers did  not  stay  around  long  to  ask  further  questions. 

Not  everybody  tried  to  keep  their  stock  from  the  military. 
Some  of  the  finest  cavalry  horses  used  in  the  Civil  War  were  foaled 
on  the  farm  of  the  James  T.  Lane  family  of  McMinn  County.  One 
particular  unit,  known  as  "Lane's  Guards"  and  fighting  as  part  of 
the  First  Tennessee  Cavalry,  CSA,  carried  combat  banners  sewn 
by  Athens  ladies. 

There  was  also  the  problem  of  noncombatants  being  "drafted" 
by  armies  as  they  moved  through  an  area.  Joe  Hughes  was  a 
Unionist  living  in  the  Clearwater  area.  He  had  avoided  conscrip- 
tion, like  many  in  the  area,  to  remain  at  home  to  care  for  crops 
and  to  protect  his  family.  A  large  Confederate  force  moved  from 
Kingston  to  Athens  along  the  Old  Kingston  Road  near  his  home 
and  came  too  close.  Hughes  and  two  friends  named  Culvahouse 
and  Woods  decided  that  they  could  stay  no  longer.  They  walked 
to  the  Tennessee  River  in  Meigs  County,  swam  the  river,  and  en- 
listed in  the  First  Cavalry  Company,  USA,  which  was  at  the  time 
camping  in  the  region. 

The  practice  of  "wintering" could  bring  large  numbers  of  sol- 
diers and  commanders.  For  example,  the  Union  army  camped 
at  Athens  in  the  winter  of  1863,  using  the  nearly-completed  Keith 
mansion  as  headquarters.  The  commander  carefully  gave  the 
influential  Keiths  receipts  for  any  item  his  men  used.  Small  log 
huts  housing  eight  men  each  called  "tents"were  built  throughout 
the  present  Epperson/Athens  Community  Hospital  area.  There 
were  hundreds  of  these  small  buildings. 

The  building  called  "Old  College"  in  the  heart  of  the  present 


McMINN 


35 


"Old  College"  on  the  Tennessee  Wesleyan  campus,  which  served  as  a 
hospital  during  the  Civil  War  and  now  houses  the  McMinn  County  His- 
torical Museum 


Tennessee  Wesleyan  College  campus,  which  now  houses  the 
McMinn  County  Living  Heritage  Museum,  was  used  as  a  Con- 
federate hospital  at  one  time  during  the  war.  Churches,  academy 
buildings,  and  homes  were  regularly  used  to  quarter  troops;  oc- 
casionally one  army  would  burn  a  building  when  it  left  so  the 
approaching  army  could  not  use  it. 

The  most  notable  events  of  the  war  related  to  the  Hiwassee 
River  Bridge  at  Calhoun.  In  fact,  one  of  the  first  major  events 
of  the  entire  war  occurred  here.  Federal  forces  realized  that  the 
river  and  rail  systems  in  Tennessee  were  essential  to  any  ad- 
vances by  either  army,  and  that  the  destruction  of  this  bridge 
and  several  others  like  it — in  much  the  way  that  Andrews' Raid- 
ers would  do  in  the  "Great  Locomotive  Chase"  in  North  Georgia 
later  in  the  war — should  be  given  high  priority  in  any  war  plans. 


36  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

Lincoln  himself  was  reported  to  have  said  that  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  East  Tennessee  railroad  system,  particularly  the  bridge 
over  the  Tennessee  at  Loudon  and  the  bridge  at  Calhoun,  was 
as  important  as  the  capture  of  Richmond  itself.  By  mid-fall  1861 
he  and  Gen.  George  McClellan  had  approved  the  clandestine 
plan  of  Presbyterian  minister  William  Carter  to  burn  nine  bridges 
in  East  Tennessee  on  the  night  of  November  8,  1861.  McClellan 
planned  a  major  thrust  into  East  Tennessee  immediately  follow- 
ing the  completion  of  this  mission  to  quickly  control  the  area. 

While  the  guerrillas  hid  in  the  mountains  and  completed  their 
plans,  McClellan  changed  his  mind  at  the  insistence  of  Gen.  Don 
Carlos  Buell,  who  wanted  to  attack  Middle  Tennessee.  Unaware 
of  this,  attempts  at  bridge  destruction  were  carried  out  at  several 
locations  including  the  Hiwassee  bridge.  This  group  was  led  by 
A.  M.  Cate  who  lived  in  Bradley  County,  but  had  strong  family 
ties  in  McMinn.  Accompanying  Cate  were  Thomas  Cate,  Eli 
Cleveland,  Jesse  F.  Cleveland,  and  Adam  Thomas.  A.  M.  Cate 
had  to  walk  300  miles  through  the  Tennessee  mountains  to  es- 
cape into  Kentucky  and  avoid  the  reign  of  terror  which  followed 
the  burnings. 

Great  fear  spread  throughout  the  state's  population,  martial 
law  was  instituted,  dozens  of  people  were  arrested  daily  for  sev- 
eral weeks,  and  there  were  several  immediate  executions.  Many 
who  were  guilty  of  little  more  than  fostering  Union  sympathies 
were  marched  off  in  the  dead  of  winter  to  prisons  in  Georgia 
and  Alabama.  The  Union  plan  had  not  taken  into  consideration 
the  southerners' ability  to  rebuild  and  repair — the  Hiwassee  Bridge 
was  operational  within  two  weeks  of  the  burning.  In  fact,  the 
bridge  burnings  may  have  worked  to  the  advantage  of  the  South, 
as  many  people  who  had  been  undecided  were  frightened  and 
joined  the  Confederate  cause  as  the  realities  of  war  struck  so 
close  to  their  homes. 

The  bridge  was  the  site  of  a  number  of  battles  and  skirmishes 
throughout  the  war.  One  major  confrontation  involved  com- 
mands led  by  Gen.  James  Longstreet  and  General  Sherman  in 
the  fall  of  1863.  To  delay  Sherman,  Longstreet  set  fire  to  the 
bridge,  which  necessitated  a  river  crossing.  With  Longstreet 


McMINN  37 

holding  the  high  ground  overlooking  the  river,  Shermans  cross- 
ing became  a  deadly  affair.  He  stood  on  the  river  bank  and  cried 
out,  "Recollect  that  East  Tennessee  is  my  horror." 

Following  the  Battle  of  Chickamauga,  a  second,  major  en- 
gagement involved  forces  under  Nathan  Bedford  Forrest  against 
Gen.  Ambrose  Burnside.  Forrest  paid  dearly  for  a  momentary 
success  against  Burnside  and  shifted  his  attention  to  Middle  and 
West  Tennessee  for  the  remainder  of  the  war.  Finally,  following 
the  Battle  of  Fort  Sanders  at  Knoxville,  Gen.  "Fighting  Joe" 
Wheeler  led  1500  men  against  Union  Col.  Eli  Long,  who  was 
encamped  near  the  bridge.  Many  of  Wheeler  s  men  advanced  in 
a  valiant  saber  charge  and  fought  hand  to  hand.  Long's  superior 
troops  were,  however,  victorious,  and  the  last  vestige  of  Confed- 
erate strength  in  Tennessee  was  broken. 

Wrhile  all  of  the  events  of  the  Civil  War  that  involved  McMinn 
Countians  cannot  be  recounted,  at  least  the  activities  of  two  rep- 
resentative units — one  Confederate  and  one  Union — can  be  ex- 
amined closely. 

Col.  John  C.  Vaughns  regiment,  organized  in  Knoxville  on 
May  29,  1861,  became  the  third  Tennessee  group  to  be  accepted 
into  Confederate  service.  Assisting  Vaughn  was  Col.  Newton  J. 
Lillard  from  Meigs  County.  The  company  mustered  in  McMinn 
County  was  led  by  Capt.  Harry  Dill.  The  formation  of  this  unit 
afforded  many  young  men  from  the  county  their  first  real  op- 
portunity to  join  the  Southern  cause. 

The  unit  immediately  left  for  the  battlefront  in  Virginia,  and, 
following  several  successful  skirmishes,  was  involved  in  the  First 
Battle  of  Manassas  Junction  in  mid-July.  Throughout  the  early 
part  of  1862  the  unit  fought  under  Gen.  Kirby  Smith,  and  con- 
centrated their  efforts  in  upper  East  Tennessee  in  the  pursuit  of 
guerrilla  forces  and  bushwackers.  Their  next  engagement  was 
at  Tazewell  in  early  August  against  three  Union  regiments.  Al- 
though outnumbered,  the  Tennessee  forces  were  victorious  in 
the  battle.  Following  further  successes  at  Cumberland  Gap, 
Vaughn  was  promoted  to  the  rank  of  general  and  Lillard  com- 
manded the  regiment  until  the  end  of  the  war. 

About  this  time  Gen.  U.  S.  Grant  began  to  move  against 


38  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

Vicksburg,  and  several  East  Tennessee  units  were  ordered  there. 
They  faced  Grant's  superior  numbers  at  the  bloody  battle  at  Bak- 
er s  Creek  and,  of  3800  who  fought  in  this  valiant  attempt  to 
secure  the  city  from  further  attack,  only  2000  returned  to  the 
trenches  at  Vicksburg.  For  the  44  days  of  the  seige  the  unit  was 
responsible  for  successfully  holding  three  hill  batteries. 

Following  the  surrender  at  Vicksburg,  a  period  of  intern- 
ment, and  subsequent  exchange,  Lillard  reorganized  Company 
G  in  Charleston  in  early  October.  At  this  time  they  were  up- 
graded to  mounted  infantry,  and  joined  the  forces  of  General 
Longstreet  to  fight  at  Knoxville.  With  the  exception  of  the  sur- 
render at  Vicksburg,  this  was  actually  the  first  timethat  they  had 
been  unsuccessful  in  pitched  battle.  From  this  moment  on,  the 
war  became  treacherous,  as  an  except  from  a  war  diary  quoted 
by  Wilma  Dykeman  shows: 

We  were  so  badly  off  for  horse-shoes  that  on  the  advance  we  had 
stripped  the  shoes  from  all  the  dead  horses,  and  we  killed  for  that 
purpose  all  the  wounded  and  broken-down  animals.  During  the 
siege  the  river  brought  down  to  us  a  number  of  dead  horses  and 
mules,  thrown  from  the  town.  We  watched  for  them,  took  them 
out,  and  got  the  shoes  and  nails  from  their  feet.  Our  men  were 
nearly  as  badly  off  as  the  animals — perhaps  worse,  as  they  did  not 
have  hoofs.  I  have  seen  bloody  stains  on  frozen  ground,  left  by 
the  bare-footed  where  our  infantry  had  passed.  For  shoes,  we  were 
obliged  to  resort  to  the  raw  hides  of  beef  cattle  as  temporary  pro- 
tection from  the  frozen  ground. 

Further  fighting  in  the  Shenandoah  Valley  and  upper  East  Ten- 
nessee continued  in  the  final  months  of  the  war.  There  were  a 
few  victories  but  many  disasters.  Company  G's  fighting  spirit  never 
dwindled,  and  while  Lee  was  bringing  the  conflict  to  an  end  at 
Appomatox,  they  were  camped  nearby  at  New  River  ready  to 
take  up  the  fight  when  so  commanded.  Lillards  own  unit,  in  forced 
retreat  and  thinned  by  desertions,  surrendered  at  Washington, 
Georgia,  on  May  9,  1865. 

In  the  latter  part  of  the  war,  five  companies  of  men  were  mus- 
tered at  Athens  as  the  7th  Tennessee  Mounted  Infantry  Regi- 
ment, USA.  The  regiment  was  stationed  at  Athens  under  the 


McMINN  39 

command  of  Majors  John  McGaughey  and  Oliver  M.  Dodson. 
Official  records  indicate  that  this  unit  participated  only  in  the 
skirmish  in  Athens  on  January  29,  1865.  George  W.  Ross,  quar- 
termaster of  the  unit,  described  the  action: 

We  were  attacked  yesterday  by  300  rebels  of  Vaughns,  Wheelers, 
and  bushwacker  commands,  and  repulsed  them  from  the  town, 
but  they  captured  some  20  or  25  of  our  men,  including  major  John 
McGaughey.  They  retreated  from  the  town  in  the  evening  and 
remained  all  night  seven  miles  from  here,  and  rumor  says  they  are 
going  to  make  another  attack  in  connection  with  about  the  same 
force  that  came  from  Madisonville  yesterday. 

An  urgent  request  was  sent  to  Knoxville  for  reinforcements, 
especially  artillery  units.  The  next  afternoon,  veteran  soldiers 
arrived  from  Knoxville,  and  a  somewhat  different  view  of  the 
situation  was  reported  in  the  Civil  War  Centennial  materials: 

The  garrison  of  about  500  men  were  scattered  through  the  town 
and  the  county,  a  greater  portion  of  them  having  disappeared  in 
the  timber  on  the  approach  of  the  enemy  the  day  previously  and 
had  not  yet  returned.  From  the  best  information,  we  have  learned 
that  about  200  guerrillas  dashed  into  the  place  the  day  before  about 
1:00  p.m.,  and  that  they  were  in  the  public  square  before  the  gar- 
rison knew  it;  that  they  remained  three  hours,  and  drew  off  at 
their  leisure  without  doing  any  injury  to  the  town. 

In  March  part  of  the  regiment  was  ordered  into  the  moun- 
tains east  of  Athens  to  patrol  and  guard  the  passes,  and  another 
group  was  sent  to  Clinton  to  help  with  martial  law  policing  ac- 
tivities. Those  who  remained  with  the  regiment  were  mustered 
out  on  July  27,  1865. 

In  many  respects,  primary  source  materials  from  this  period 
are  almost  nonexistent.  To  follow  regiments  is  one  thing,  but  to 
know  the  individual  acts  of  gallantry  and  ultimate  sacrifice  is  quite 
another.  Beyond  the  regimental  histories,  countless  individuals, 
for  one  reason  or  another,  fought  in  dozens  of  other  units  that 
were  mustered  in  places  far  removed  from  McMinn  County;  their 
stories  have  not  even  been  touched.  The  frontline  combat  of  the 
Civil  War  was  horrific,  and  in  addition  to  the  outright  battle  deaths 


40  Tennessee  County  Histoyy  Series 

thousands  upon  thousands  died  from  infection,  disease,  star- 
vation, and  weather  The  scars  that  remained  were  deep,  and 
influenced  political,  family,  and  community  differences  over  the 
next  century. 

In  spite  of  the  scars,  oneness  of  place  and  future  brought 
about  a  peaceful  and  productive  postwar  coexistence.  The  words 
of  the  chronicler  of  Vaughns  Brigade  speak  well  of  the  Confed- 
erate spirit  in  defeat: 

The  laying  down  of  their  arms,  the  striking  of  their  colors,  the 
disbanding  of  their  military  organizations,  and  the  return  of  al- 
legiance to  the  Federal  Govenment,  were  not  the  choice  of  these 
long-tried  veterans  so  long  as  there  was  hope;  but  when  their  bu- 
gles were  silent,  their  flag  in  the  dust,  their  campfires  gone  out, 
and  their  oath  of  fidelity  to  the  South  cancelled  by  the  issues  of 
war,  they  were  ready  to  resume  their  wonted  position  as  citizens 
of  the  United  States,  not  in  a  spirit  of  hostility,  but  with  the  patriotic 
desire  to  honor  the  Government  protecting  them. 

In  the  next  half  century  a  new  generation  rebuilt  the  county 
and  brought  it  to  new  plateaus  of  accomplishment.  The  war 
proved  one  thing  for  certain — that  these  were  people  of  vitality 
and  courage  who  were  willing  to  give  whatever  effort  necessary 
for  a  place  that  had  become  much  more  than  a  temporary  jump- 
ing off  point  for  the  next  ridge  to  be  climbed,  the  next  river  to 
be  crossed,  or  the  next  frontier  to  be  tamed.  This  vitality  would 
be  translated  into  new  levels  of  progress  in  every  aspect  of  com- 
munity development,  and  the  foundations  for  the  twentieth  cen- 
tury would  be  laid. 

Industrial  and  Community  Growth 

In  1951  Sir  Eric  Bowater  of  the  English  paper-making  empire 
was  concerned  with  expanding  his  worldwide  operation  to  the 
United  States.  Calhoun  was  selected  as  the  site  of  Bowaters'new 
American  plant.  The  reasons  that  Calhoun  was  chosen  in  1951 
were  precisely  the  same  reasons  that  it  was  important  to  the  In- 
dians and  first  white  settlers:  excellent  natural  resources,  cen- 
trality  to  transportation,  and,  most  particularly,  the  abundantly 


McMINN  41 

available  waters  of  the  Hiwassee.  Today,  the  Calhoun  Bowaters 
plant  is  the  largest  producer  of  newsprint  in  the  world,  and  one 
of  a  long  list  of  mills  in  East  Tennessee. 

The  first  mills  to  appear  in  the  county  ground  corn  and  wheat. 
Later,  the  first  cotton  spinning  mill  in  East  Tennessee  was  erected 
on  Mouse  Creek  in  the  1830s  by  Ephraim  Slack.  An  old  news- 
paper report  from  that  time  states  that  the  mill  could  do  the 
work  of  100  women  laboring  at  spinning  wheels.  Ephraim  Slack 
drowned  in  the  mill  pond  a  few  years  later  and  one  of  his  sons, 
John,  went  on  to  become  a  leading  newspaperman  in  the  state. 

From  about  1850  until  the  1890s,  when  it  was  destroyed  by 
fire,  a  spinning  mill  in  the  Mt.  Verd  area  was  one  of  the  biggest 
industrial  operations  in  the  county.  It  was  located  to  the  left  of 
the  double  bridges  at  Mt.  Verd  and  was  owned  originally  by 
Charles  W.  Metcalf.  It  came  to  be  known  as  the  McElwee  Mill 
when  that  family  took  over  its  operation. 

This  was  the  beginning  of  a  textile  industry  which  has  con- 
tinued to  thrive  in  the  county  with  companies  such  as  Chilhowee, 
Van  Raalte,  Crescent  Hosiery,  Athens  Hosiery,  and  Beaunit  each 
having  its  period  of  importance.  Finally,  in  the  late  1930s,  the 
same  resource  that  powered  the  mills  was  used  by  the  Tennessee 
Valley  Authority  to  produce  electrical  power  with  water-driven 
turbines.  The  industrial  development  of  the  county  has  always 
been  closely  associated  with  its  multitude  of  water  resources. 

One  early  mill  was  operated  by  the  Saulpaw  family  one  mile 
east  of  Calhoun  at  the  spot  where  the  Eastanallee  Creek  runs 
into  the  Hiwassee  River.  While  the  mill  itself  was  torn  down  fol- 
lowing the  TVA  acquisitions  in  the  area,  the  old  dam  still  re- 
mains. The  Saulpaws  produced  a  popular  brand  of  flour  known 
as  "Silver  Queen."  In  the  1921  centennial  edition  of  a  now  extinct 
publication  called  The  Semi-Weekly  Post,  G.  L.  Saulpaw  remarked 
that  business  was  good,  but  that  he  had  been  at  the  work  so  long 
that  "he  would  sell  if  a  suitable  buyer  presented  himself."  The 
imposing  Saulpaw  grave  marker  in  the  old  cemetery  next  to  the 
Calhoun  Baptist  Church  is  one  of  the  most  elaborate  in  the  county. 

An  even  more  notable  success  was  the  Long  family's  opera- 


42  Tennessee  County  History  Series 


The  Long  family's  Athens  Roller  Mills 

tion  of  the  Athens  Roller  Mill  which  continued  on  the  Eastan- 
allee  near  the  heart  of  the  Athens  business  district  until  the  most 
recent  times.  "Morning  Glory  Flour  "and  "Longs  Perfection  Self- 
Rising  Flour"  were  as  popular  in  their  day  as  Mayfields  milk  is 
today.  The  Long  milling  operation  later  extended  to  other  parts 
of  the  county. 

Mills  quickly  diversified  with  flume  lines  typically  driving  at 
least  two  turbines  in  the  same  mill.  The  Riley  Thompson  mill 
near  Riceville  was  five  stories  high,  and,  in  addition  to  the  grist 
operation,  housed  the  furniture  shop  of  Hamilton  Jarnigan.  The 
machinery  in  Elisha  Dotson's  mill  turned  a  saw  for  cutting  tim- 
ber, powered  wool  and  cotton  carding  equipment,  and  did  the 
traditional  corn  and  wheat  grinding.  A  precursor  of  the  "mill 
town"  appeared  near  the  Frank  Gettys  mill  in  the  lower  Eastan- 
allee  valley,  where  a  special  type  of  cotton  material  called  "duck- 
ing" was  produced.  Elliot  Keith  produced  rag  paper  stock  at 


McMINN  43 

Glenmore  which  was  one  of  the  first  six  paper  mills  operating 
in  the  state. 

The  water-powered  mills  ultimately  gave  way  to  advanced 
technology.  By  1901,  for  example,  J.  W.  Trew  operated  a  steam- 
powered  cotton  gin  at  Dentville  east  of  Calhoun  near  the  Polk 
County  line.  As  late  as  1968,  thirteen  bales  of  cotton  were  ginned 
here.  The  old  Trew  store  continues  today  as  a  relic  of  a  bygone 
era.  One  can  move  from  one  era  to  another  by  leaving  the  Bo- 
waters  mill  at  Calhoun  and  driving  13  miles  across  to  Highway 
411,  through  the  Trew  family  settlement,  and  then  to  the  old  mill 
town  of  Pendergast,  now  called  Delano. 

The  era  of  the  water-powered  mill  may  be  gone,  but  mem- 
ories of  the  beauty,  the  sounds,  and  the  visible  power  of  the  old 
gears  and  turbines  persist  in  the  minds  of  the  remaining  few  who 
experienced  their  operation.  The  humming  whine  and  staccato 
clicking  of  the  modern  computerized  factory  pale  by  comparison. 

Nothing  quite  captures  the  old  mill  experience  like  J.  A.  But- 
terfields  famous  ballad  "When  You  and  I  Were  Young,  Maggie." 
This  is  one  of  the  best-known  songs  of  the  entire  "country"  music 
heritage,  and  interestingly  enough  had  its  antecedents  in  McMinn 
County.  George  Johnson  was  born  on  the  Hiwassee  and,  while 
going  to  look  for  gold  in  the  Unakas,  came  upon  a  mill  along  the 
present  L&N  line  between  Etowah  and  Reliance.  There  he  met 
and  later  married  Marrie  Harris — "Maggie. "After  living  on  the 
Hiwassee  for  many  years,  they  returned  to  visit  the  old  mill.  Here, 
in  a  moment  of  inspired  reflection,  Johnson  wrote  the  poem  that 
later  became  the  basis  for  Butterfield's  famous  song. 

The  industrial  expansion  and  accompanying  population 
growth  that  reached  beyond  the  time  of  the  great  water  mills 
would  have  been  severely  handicapped  had  it  not  been  for  the 
appearance  of  railroads  in  the  county.  In  fact,  railroad  construc- 
tion, from  the  development  of  the  first  important  communities 
in  the  county  outside  of  Athens  and  Calhoun,  to  the  creation 
of  the  major  railroading  and  community  center  at  Etowah  in 
1906,  to  the  building  of  the  9.2  mile  L&N  spur  to  Bo- 
waters  in  1961  which  was  the  longest  new  track  construction  by 
L&N  since  the  1940s,  has  always  been  at  the  center  of  expansion 


44  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

in  the  county.  It  should  also  be  made  clear  that  the  railroad  did 
not  simply  come  to  McMinn  County  by  accident.  It  was  because 
of  the  support  of  the  general  population  of  McMinn  County  that 
the  first  railroad  construction  project  in  Tennessee  occurred  here. 

The  railroads  were  to  an  earlier  time  what  interstate  high- 
ways have  been  to  the  present  time.  This  is  no  small  considera- 
tion, especially  when  one  compares  the  industrialization  and 
growth  of  McMinn  County  to  its  neighboring  county  of  Meigs 
which  is  still  the  only  county  in  the  state  which  has  no  rail  line  at 
all.  Consider  also  the  way  that  growth  in  McMinn  County  lagged 
behind  that  of  Bradley  County  in  recent  years  because  of  the 
longer  time  that  it  took  for  the  interstate  system  to  be  completed 
in  McMinn.  In  every  respect,  the  decisions  which  brought  the 
railroads  into  McMinn  were  of  highest  significance  and  the  re- 
sult of  enlightened  and  progressive  minds. 

The  story  of  the  Hiwassee  Rail  Road,  which  became  the  East 
Tennessee,  Virginia,  and  Georgia  Railroad  and  ultimately  a  part 
of  the  Southern  Railroad  system  in  1894,  is  told  in  detail  byjames 
Burn  in  The  Daily  Post-Athenian  Sesqui-centennial  Edition. 

One  of  the  persons  primarily  responsible  for  bringing  the 
first  railroad  through  McMinn  County  was  James  Hayes  Rea- 
gan, who  was  elected  to  the  state  senate  in  1835.  He  was  assisted 
in  the  legislature  by  John  Miller,  representing  McMinn  County, 
and  Elijah  Hurst,  representing  both  McMinn  and  Monroe  coun- 
ties. These  men  were  later  joined  by  R.  C.  Jackson,  for  whom 
Jackson  Street  in  Athens  is  named  (not  Andrew  Jackson  as  most 
assume).  Jackson  even  went  so  far  as  to  bring  in  Samuel  P.  Ivins, 
the  county's  first  prominent  newspaper  man,  to  establish  the  Ath- 
ens Post  for  the  primary  reason  of  convincing  the  general  pop- 
ulace, who  would  ultimately  have  to  help  with  financing,  on  the 
idea  of  railroads. 

In  addition  to  the  accomplishments  of  these  men  and  others 
who  will  be  named,  two  other  factors  made  the  route  through 
McMinn  attractive.  First,  the  area  was  not  mountainous,  and  sec- 
ondly, there  had  already  existed  for  some  time  a  major  stage 
route  that  ran  from  Dalton,  Georgia,  to  Cleveland  and  then  to 


McMINN 


45 


J.  H.  Reagan,  the 
guiding  spirit  be- 
hind the  early  rail- 
road development 


Athens.  It  then  went  to  Greenback  where  there  was  a  ferry  cross- 
ing the  Tennessee  River,  and  beyond  the  river  into  Knoxville. 
Those  who  originated  the  railroad  idea  decided  to  follow  this 
route  from  Dalton  to  Athens,  but  then  head  directly  up  the 
Sweetwater  Valley  (where  Reagan  had  large  land  holdings)  to 
Blair's  Ferry  (present-day  Loudon),  where  goods  and  passen- 
gers could  be  ferried  and  carried  on  into  Knoxville. 

In  1836  the  Tennessee  legislature  approved  a  proposal  by  which 
the  state  would  provide  one-third  capital  funding,  if  two-thirds 
could  be  raised  by  subscription,  to  finance  a  railroad  project.  The 
Hiwassee  Rail  Road  Company  was  immediately  formed.  The  in- 


46  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

itial  plan  was  to  sell  4000  shares  at  $100.00  per  share  by  January 
1,  1837. 

By  this  time,  however,  only  $120,000  had  been  raised,  so  six 
McMinn  Countians — Asbury  Coffey,  James  Fyffe,  Alexander 
Keves,  Onslow  Murrell,  Nathaniel  Smith,  and  T.  Nixon  Van 
Dyke — personally  secured  the  balance.  The  stockholders  held 
their  first  meeting  in  Athens  and  elected  Solomon  Jacobs  of 
Knoxville  president.  They  ordered  surveys  conducted,  rights- 
of-way  secured,  and  a  two-story  headquarters  building  con- 
structed by  the  Cleages  in  Athens.  The  structure,  referred  to  as 
the  "Cleage  Building"  earlier,  still  stands  next  to  the  Federal 
Building  on  North  Jackson  Street. 

The  stockholders  first  anticipated  that  the  98V4  mile  proj- 
ect— figured  at  a  cost  of  $11,500  per  mile,  including  bridges  over 
the  Hiwassee  at  Calhoun  and  the  Tennessee  at  Loudon — would 
cost  $1,250,000.  By  mid-1839  work  was  halted.  Almost  $936,329 
had  been  spent,  and  all  there  was  to  show  for  it  was  a  bridge  at 
Calhoun,  66  miles  of  graded  roadbed,  and  a  partially  completed 
iron  manufacturing  plant  at  Charleston  which  had  been  hap- 
hazardly conceived  as  a  major  money-saving  enterprise  to  sup- 
ply the  builders  with  their  own  spikes  and  rails. 

Because  of  a  variety  of  legal  and  legislature  actions,  charter 
revisions,  and  new  attempts  at  financing,  work  was  not  resumed 
until  1849.  As  a  part  of  these  revisions,  the  corporation  became 
the  East  Tennessee  and  Georgia  Railroad.  Representative  David 
Ballew  and  Senator  William  Cooke  of  McMinn  County  had  worked 
diligently  to  bring  the  new  charter  into  existence.  Alexander  Keyes 
was  elected  president,  with  T  Nixon  Van  Dyke,  W.  F.  Keith,  and 
R.  C.  Morris  among  the  directors.  Officials  held  ground-break- 
ing ceremonies  in  Dalton  in  June  of  1849  at  the  southern  terminal. 

Work  now  proceeded  quickly  and  without  many  problems. 
In  fact,  as  each  new  mile  of  track  stretched  northward  huge  pub- 
lic fanfare,  free  barbeques,  and  inspired  oratory  were  held — all 
designed  to  increase  the  already  burgeoning  public  support.  By 
February  of  1852  tracks  had  reached  Mouse  Creek  (present-day 
Niota),  Sweetwater  by  April,  and  finally  by  July  the  river  at  Lou- 
don. In  1854,  on  property  bought  from  the  heirs  of  James 


McMINN  47 

Willson,  Si.,  the  ET&Ga  built  a  depot  at  Mouse  Creek,  the  old- 
est still  in  use  in  Tennessee. 

The  northbound  passenger  train  left  Dalton  at  2:30  p.m.;  it 
was  due  at  Varnells  at  2:57,  at  Red  Clay  at  3:15,  at  Blue  Spring 
at  3:42,  at  Cleveland  at  3:54,  at  Charleston  at  4:30,  at  Riceville 
at  4:51,  at  Athens  at  5:15,  at  Mouse  Creek  at  5:35,  at  Sweetwater 
at  5:57,  and  at  Philadelphia  at  6:15.  It  was  scheduled  to  arrive 
at  Loudon  at  6:35  p.m.  The  southbound  train  left  Loudon  at  4:00 
a.m.  and  arrived  at  Dalton  at  8:30  a.m.  An  additional  freight  train 
ran  from  each  terminal  daily  with  a  maximum  of  20  cars  loaded 
to  16,000  pounds  (according  to  Burn,  the  amount  carried  by  three 
freight  cars  today). 

In  mid-1852  James  Gettys  of  Athens  received  the  contract  to 
build  the  Loudon  bridge.  He  employed  George  W.  Saulpaw,  a 
stone  mason  from  the  North,  to  build  the  piers;  the  superstruc- 
ture was  subcontracted.  By  the  middle  of  1855  it  was  possible  to 
go  from  Dalton  to  Knoxville  by  rail.  The  ET&G  planned  a  grand 
"Railroad  Jubilee  and  Fourth  of  July  Celebration"  and  offered 
the  celebrants  a  special  $4.00  round-trip  fare  from  Knoxville  to 
Dalton.  Although  in  1851  Athens  was  designated  the  main  center 
of  operations,  in  1856  under  the  direction  of  new  president 
Campbell  Wallace,  the  headquarters  were  moved  to  Knoxville. 
One  can  only  speculate  what  McMinn  County  would  be  like  to- 
day if  it  had  become  a  major  southeastern  railway  center. 

The  role  of  the  ET&Ga  in  the  Civil  War  has  already  been 
mentioned.  Senator  Reagan,  one  of  its  founders,  had  been  a  Union 
supporter,  but  gave  his  final  allegiance  to  his  southern  home- 
land. He  was  kidnapped  late  in  the  war  by  the  Union  army  and 
held  ransom  for  a  northern  prisoner  being  held  in  the  South 
named  Joseph  Monroe.  Efforts  on  both  the  northern  and  south- 
ern sides  to  secure  his  release  were  too  slow,  and  Reagan  died 
from  the  overexposure  to  the  elements  he  experienced  during 
confinement. 

Later  generations  of  McMinn  Countians  watched  huge  steam 
engines  and  sleek  diesels  cover  the  lines  surveyed  and  built  by 
these  pioneer  entrepreneurs.  The  station  at  Athens  finally  met 
the  same  fate  as  passenger  service,  and  its  absence  continues  to 


48  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

be  mourned  by  those  who  used  it  as  a  point  of  reference  for  the 
entire  community.  Today,  part  of  the  old  station  has  been  incor- 
porated into  the  structures  of  the  Tennessee  Valley  Railroad 
Museum  in  Chattanooga. 

Names  like  those  of  agents  J.  W.  Fisher  and  Fred  Snyder,  en- 
gineers Charles  Brackett,  Buster  Dunn,  C.  H.  Henritze,  and  es- 
pecially their  trains — "The  Tennessean,"  "The  Birmingham 
Special,"  and  "The  Pelican,"  which  became  famous  in  the  first 
half  of  the  twentieth  century — still  remain  to  recall  a  rich  mo- 
ment in  the  county's  heritage. 

During  the  1890s  the  Knoxville  Southern  Railroad  built  a  line 
that  cut  across  the  eastern  side  of  the  county  and  connected 
Knoxville  to  Atlanta  by  a  new  route,  thus  opening  an  almost  en- 
tirely untouched  section  to  the  kind  of  commercial  success  that 
the  ET&Ga  had  brought  to  the  Sweetwater  Valley.  This  second 
road  soon  merged  with  the  Marietta  and  North  Georgia  Rail- 
road to  become  the  Atlanta,  Knoxville,  and  Northern  Railroad. 
It  ran  from  Knoxville  through  Monroe  County  to  Tellico  Junc- 
tion (Englewood),  and  ten  miles  south  of  the  junction  took  an 
abrupt  cut  toward  the  spectacular  Hiwassee  River  Gorge  and 
then  on  to  Marietta. 

In  1904  construction  of  a  new  line  from  this  cut-off  point 
south  of  Tellico  Junction  straight  through  to  Cartersville  was  be- 
gun. The  town  of  Etowah  was  established  at  this  time  and  soon 
became  the  repair  center  and  headquarters  of  the  Atlanta  divi- 
sion of  what  was  by  then  a  part  of  the  Louisville  and  Nashville 
Railroad.  By  1925  more  than  2000  persons  were  employed  at 
the  Etowah  operation  and  21  trains  (14  passenger  and  7  freight) 
came  through  the  Etowah  station.  The  old  station,  which  had 
been  allowed  to  deteriorate,  has  recently  been  restored  into  a 
beautiful  landmark. 

With  the  exception  of  renewed  activity  caused  by  World  War 
II,  the  Etowah  operation  began  to  decline  in  the  1930s.  The  shops 
were  oriented  to  repair  wooden  cars  which  became  obsolete,  and 
company  headquarters  were  consolidated  at  Knoxville.  Today, 
Etowah  railroading  activities  primarily  involve  shipments  from 
Copperhill  and  the  large  pulpwood  and  paper  traffic  associated 


McMINN  49 

with  Bowaters.  Many  people  in  Etowah  with  close  ties  to  the  L&N 
still  remember  famous  passenger  trains  of  the  early  and  mid 
twentieth  century  such  as  "The  Southland," "The  Georgian, "and 
"The  Flamingo." 

Finally,  in  1887,  the  Tellico  Railroad  Company  was  incor- 
porated to  build  a  22-mile  line  from  Athens  to  Tellico  Plains. 
This  opened  a  relatively  unexploited  timber  and  mining  area  to 
rail  service  in  a  more  profitable  manner.  The  road  was  in  op- 
eration a  little  over  a  year  later. 

An  important  community  grew  up  in  1870  two  miles  south- 
east of  the  place  where  the  new  Tellico  line  crossed  the  AK&N 
line  at  a  place  which  became  known  as  Tellico  Junction.  Jacob, 
James,  and  Mortimer  Brient,  who  had  already  become  note- 
worthy for  establishing  the  Hickory  Flat  Roller  Mills  and  the  Jer- 
sey Herd  and  Dairy  east  of  Athens,  built  several  shops,  mills,  and 
houses  to  take  advantage  of  the  railroad  construction.  By  1907 
the  locus  of  commerce  had  so  completely  shifted  to  Tellico  Junc- 
tion that  the  Eureka  Cotton  Mill  moved  there,  becoming  the  pri- 
mary establishment  in  town.  The  following  year  the  community  s 
name  was  changed  to  Englewood  at  the  suggestion  of  Miss  Nan- 
nie Chesnutt,  sister  of  James  Brient's  wife,  because  it  reminded 
her  of  the  wooded  home  of  Robin  Hood  she  had  read  about  as 
a  child.  In  1901  the  Brients  had  joined  J.  W.  Chesnutt  in  building 
a  flour  and  feed  mill  called  the  Englewood  Milling  Company, 
and  in  1917  Chesnutt  joined  with  a  Knoxville  group  to  establish 
a  hosiery  mill,  the  Englewood  Manufacturing  Company. 

The  terms  "Yellow  Top,""Socktown,"and  "Onion  Hill"  still  are 
important  designations  that  came  to  describe  the  tenement  com- 
munities of  the  Eureka,  Englewood  Manufacturing,  and  Engle- 
wood Milling  companies  respectively.  As  at  Etowah,  the  Great 
Depression  of  the  1930s  took  a  severe  toll  on  Englewood  industry. 

An  uncredited  article,  "Gem  of  the  Unakas," reveals  a  unique 
aspect  of  life  in  Englewood  in  the  early  1920s: 

If  we  envied  anybody,  it  would  be  the  quiet,  happy  people  of  the 
splendid  little  city  of  Englewood.  Her  women,  as  well  as  the  men, 
are  wide  awake  business  people.  The  women  are  playing  an  im- 
portant role  in  its  development:  a  woman  is  the  president  of  the 


50  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

-       -     .  -  -'-■  ■  , 


i 


§1 


mmi 


White  Cliffs  Springs  resort  hotel 


Eureka  Hosiery;  a  woman,  Miss  Sallie  Smith,  is  assistant  cashier  of 
the  Bank  of  Englewood  and  is  also  a  member  of  the  Board  of  Di- 
rectors; a  woman,  Mrs.  Heath,  runs  the  principal  hotel;  a  woman, 
Mrs.  Tallent,  runs  a  first  class  boarding  house;  and  women,  Mrs. 
Chesnutt  and  her  daughters,  Misses  Grace  and  Nannie,  run  a  600 
acre  farm. 

The  Tellico  Railroad  line  itself  prospered  until  1911  when  it 
was  taken  over  by  the  L&N,  which  allowed  this  line  to  extend  its 
operations  to  Athens.  The  train  left  Athens  each  morning  at  ten, 
made  eight  stops  before  reaching  Tellico  Plains,  and  then  re- 
turned to  Athens  by  shortly  after  four  in  the  afternoon.  In  1983 
the  line  from  Englewood  to  Tellico  Plains  was  abandoned. 

The  most  interesting  stop  may  have  been  at  White  Cliff  sta- 
tion where  passengers  made  connections  with  carriages  to  the 
White  Cliff  Springs  Resort  on  Starr's  Mountain.  Once  a  summer 
residence  for  the  very  wealthy  similar  to  Lookout  Mountain  in 


McMINN  51 

Chattanooga,  by  the  early  1900s  an  exquisite  resort  had  been 
established.  The  mineral  water  springs  and  clear  mountain  air 
made  it  one  of  the  most  popular  resorts  in  the  nation.  The  first 
pike  road — Mecca  Pike — built  in  the  county  connected  Athens 
with  these  springs.  In  1914  the  hotel  went  out  of  business  and 
for  a  few  years  the  resort  operated  as  the  White  Cliff  Club  in 
which  accommodations  were  owned  by  different  individuals, 
much  like  todays  condominiums.  Several  wealthy  families  from 
the  county  participated  in  this  venture. 

Two  conductors  on  the  Tellico  line  gained  a  high  reputation. 
M.  M.  Miller  left  the  railroad  to  establish  Miller  Brothers  De- 
partment Store  in  Etowah.  J.  W.  Gregory  worked  for  fifty  years 
and  retired  in  the  late  1950s  when  passenger  service  on  the  line 
was  eliminated.  Another  well-known  personality  was  Etowah's 
Sid  Garwood  who  served  the  L&N  line  as  an  engineer  for  many 
years.  Garwood  brought  the  first  train  into  Etowah  on  December 
6, 1906.  Garwood's  two  brothers  were  also  famous  L&N  railroaders. 

The  late  1800s  and  early  1900s  were  a  time  of  vigorous  in- 
dustrial growth  throughout  the  United  States,  and  no  better  ex- 
ample could  be  found  than  McMinn  County.  There  were 
numerous  spinoffs  of  the  railroads.  For  example,  A.  E.  Walthall 
and  F.  O.  Mahery  established  a  crosstie  yard  that  at  one  time  was 
shipping  one  and  a  half  million  board  feet  of  lumber  per  month 
to  major  railroads  throughout  the  northern  and  eastern  part  of 
the  country. 

Improved  communications  and  transportation  became  signs 
of  the  time,  and  McMinn  Countians  took  advantage  of  them.  As 
early  as  1888,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  T  J.  Long  established  a  crude  tele- 
phone system  by  stringing  a  long  wire  from  their  business  across 
the  street  to  their  home;  they  used  tin  cups  on  each  end  as  trans- 
mitters and  receivers.  In  1912  another  progressive  citizen  con- 
tributed to  the  decline  of  the  livery  business  by  introducing  the 
first  taxi,  and  by  the  1920s  the  Tennessee  Coach  Company  had 
brought  bus  service  to  the  county.  But  it  was  the  railroads  that 
rushed  the  county  into  the  modern  age. 

One  of  the  most  ambitious  projects  ever  to  begin  in  McMinn 
Countv  involved  the  establishment,  in  1887,  of  the  Athens  Min- 


52  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

ing  and  Manufacturing  Company.  The  grand  scheme  of  the  new 
company  included  a  model  industrial  and  residential  commu- 
nity on  800  acres  in  the  North  Athens  section  of  the  city  using 
the  present  Woodward  Avenue  as  the  main  street.  This  involved 
street  and  utility  construction  and  space  for  churches  and  rec- 
reation. Funds  for  the  model  city  were  to  include  at  least  the 
following:  $100,000  to  start  a  woolen  mill;  $100,000  to  construct 
a  cotton  plaid  mill;  $90,000  for  a  cotton  sheeting  mill;  $60,000 
for  a  cotton  warp  mill;  $60,000  for  a  warp  mill  exclusively  to 
produce  jeans;  $30,000  for  a  majestic  hotel;  $10,000  for  a  new 
public  school;  whatever  was  necessary  for  a  new  water  system; 
and  cooperation  in  the  venture  of  a  railroad  to  Tellico  Plains. 

The  original  charter  was  signed  by  R.  L.  Bright,  R.J.  Fisher, 
F.  W.  McElwee,  W.  M.  Nixon,  George  W.  Ochs,  A.  C.  Robeson, 
and  John  L.  Young,  Jr.  Bright  served  as  the  first  president,  Fisher 
was  the  first  general  manager,  and  W.  Gettys  became  the  first  vice 
president.  The  company  was  ambitiously  constituted,  to  quote 
from  its  charter,  for  the  following  purposes: 

carrying  on  the  business  of  mining  for  coal,  copper,  zinc,  mica, 
iron,  or  other  ore  or  mineral  including  the  operation  of  quarrying 
for  slate,  limestone,  or  marble,  and  for  sinking  shafts  or  boring  for 
petroleum,  rock  oil,  salt  water,  or  other  valuable  liquids  hidden  in 
the  earth,  and  for  the  business  of  manufacturing  any  raw  material 
by  the  aid  of  machinery  into  articles  suitable  for  use  as  cotton  and 
woolen  factories,  for  making  bagging  and  bale  rope  or  iron  bands 
for  baling  cotton,  forming  implements  or  other  articles  whether 
from  iron  or  wood,  and  in  general  of  carrying  on  of  any  other 
business  properly  coming  within  the  definition  of  a  manufactory. 

The  company  conducted  an  aggressive  advertising  cam- 
paign throughout  the  eastern  United  States.  Prospective  inves- 
tors received  special  railroad  rates  to  come  and  see  the  property, 
and  eventually  people  in  Ohio,  Pennsylvania,  Wisconsin,  Geor- 
gia, and  Tennessee  bought  stock.  In  June  of  1887,  when  the  first 
lots  were  sold,  $500,000  was  supposed  to  be  spent  on  the  site 
within  three  years.  The  whole  concept  was  an  excellent  example 
of  American  utopianism  at  its  best. 

Unfortunately,  for  a  combination  of  reasons,  by  1889  the  cor- 


McMINN 


53 


R.  J.  Fisher,  entrepreneur  and  inventor  who 
brought  the  county  national  attention 

poration  was  in  desperate  financial  circumstances,  involved  in  a 
number  of  lawsuits,  and  faced  foreclosure.  Perhaps  the  most 
compelling  problem  was  that  many  other  communities  across 
the  nation  were  involved  in  similar  projects  and  promised  pay- 
ments by  investors  often  did  not  materialize.  In  addition,  Knox- 
ville  and  Chattanooga  were  more  rapidly  growing  markets  which 
lured  good  businesses  away  and  were  more  attractive  to  pros- 
pective firms  looking  for  new  locations.  An  excellent  example  is 
the  foundry  and  machine  shop  of  George  Wheland  which  was 


5  4  Ten  > lessee  Co u  nty  History  Series 

established  in  Athens  in  1868,  but  which  moved  to  Chattanooga 
and  continues  to  be  a  principal  business  of  that  city  as  one  of 
the  main  suppliers  of  the  auto  industry  in  the  Southeast.  (The 
Wheland  name  descended  from  the  ancient  Anglo-Saxon 
mythological  hero  "Wayland  the  Smith"  who  was  conceived 
to  be  the  semidivine  forerunner  of  iron  workers.) 

R.  J.  Fisher,  who  established  the  first  hosiery  mill  in  Athens, 
brought  the  first  bicycle  to  town,  and  became  the  first  McMinn 
Countian  to  ride  in  an  airplane,  gained  patents  on  a  new  type- 
writer concept  that  led  to  the  establishment  of  the  Fisher  Type- 
writer Factory;  however,  since  the  business  centers  of  the  country 
were  in  the  Northeast,  the  company  moved  first  to  Cleveland, 
Ohio,  and  then  to  Harrisburg,  Pennsylvania. 

In  spite  of  the  fact  that  the  grand  scheme  failed,  the  area  did 
become  significantly  industrialized,  and  factories  and  mills  con- 
tinued to  be  an  important  aspect  of  the  economy  in  this  area  into 
the  modern  age.  Owners  of  the  Athens  Hosiery  Mill  quickly 
completed  their  part  of  the  project  and  also  built  a  considerable 
number  of  tenement  dwellings;  this  mill  remains.  A  furniture 
manufactory  also  started  operations,  and  its  traditions  are  con- 
tinued today  by  other  companies  in  the  same  area  of  town  such 
as  Athens  Bed  Company,  Athens  Table  Company,  Carver  Man- 
ufacturing Company,  and  McKeehan  Chair.  The  water  works 
planned  in  the  original  scheme  became  operational,  making 
"Water  Tank  Hill"  a  focal  point  of  the  community.  To  keep  pace 
with  development  in  the  area,  city  fathers  were  busy  with  street 
construction. 

The  crowning  glory  of  the  whole  project  was  the  mining  cor- 
poration's hotel.  The  building,  called  "The  Crand  View  Hotel," 
was  a  magnificent  architectural  achievement  and  along  with  the 
R.  J.  Fisher  residence,  on  the  present  site  of  the  First  Baptist 
Church,  represented  the  most  advanced  and  aesthetically  pleas- 
ing design  of  the  day.  The  hotel,  which  was  never  actually  com- 
pleted by  the  corporation,  was  ultimately  sold  to  Grant  University 
(the  precursor  of  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College)  in  1892  and  was 
known  as  Parker  College.  The  building  was  struck  by  lightning 


M cM  INN 


J)  J) 


■mQ^'I'i;,'^ 


The  R.  J.  Fisher  home  on  the  site  of  the  present  First  Baptist  Church 

on  July  10,  1907,  and  burned  in  one  of  the  most  famous  fires  of 
the  county's  history.  Either  sarcastically  or  affectionately  the 
building  came  to  be  known  as  the  "Red  Elephant."  After  it  burned, 
John  and  Gus  Kelley  cleaned  the  bricks  for  10^  per  100,  and  their 
father  Joseph  hauled  them  to  the  Tennessee  Wesleyan  campus. 
There  they  were  used  as  an  interior  wall  in  a  new  construction 
project. 

In  his  short  memoir  Charles  F.  Keith,  Jr.,  detailed  what  the 


56  Tennessee  County  History  Series 


tfPl 


HHHb 


The  Grand  View  Hotel,  known  as  the  "Red  Elephant' 


city  square  of  Athens  looked  like  in  1870.  Corners  were  typically 
given  names  related  to  long-term  ownership  or  because  of  res- 
idences that  had  at  one  time  existed  on  the  particular  sites.  Al- 
though these  names  may  be  confusing  to  the  outsider,  natives 
continue  to  use  them  to  describe  locations. 

A  hardware  store  owned  by  T.  F.  Gibson  stood  on  the  south- 
east corner  of  the  square  at  the  intersection  of  White  Street  and 
Madison  Avenue.  In  later  years,  the  busy  Newton's  Bus  Station 
and  Restaurant  seved  as  a  hub  for  travelers  coming  into  the  county. 
Across  the  street  to  the  north,  where  for  many  years  there  was 
an  A&P  grocery  store  and  in  more  recent  years  a  variety  of  dis- 
count stores  stood  the  residence  and  dry  goods  store  of  W.  G. 
Horton.  Beyond  that  on  the  longtime  site  of  Cherokee  Hadware 
Company  was  the  three-story  Bayless  hardware  store — this  cor- 
ner was  called  the  "Dewitt  Corner." 

Continuing  north  and  crossing  Jackson  Street  the  "Ballew 
Corner  "was  once  occupied  by  a  laundry  and  tailor  shop  run  by 
two  men  named  Levi  and  Chang;  by  1870  the  Hortons  had  a 


McMINN  57 

drugstore  there  which  continued  under  family  ownership  until 
recent  times.  This  corner  is  now  a  parking  lot. 

West  across  Madison  Avenue,  where  the  Robert  E.  Lee  Hotel 
stands  today,  was  the  "Henderson  Corner";  before  the  hotel  was 
built,  it  had  been  a  stagecoach  headquarters.  The  present  hotel 
was  built  in  1926  by  G.  J.  Lockmiller  using  some  of  the  finest 
marbles  available.  "Slim"  Armstrong  was  a  thirteen-year-old 
bellhop  and  across  the  years  became  as  much  of  an  institution 
as  the  hotel  itself.  "Lizzie"  Fisher  had  once  had  a  hat  shop  on 
this  site. 

Continuing  along  this  side  of  the  street,  the  next  corner  was 
identified  with  the  McKeldin  family.  Will  and  John  Horton  had 
a  dry  goods  store  here,  and  in  later  years — before  the  shopping 
center  era — Proffit's  Department  Store  was  highly  successful. 

Across  Washington  Street  on  the  site  long  occupied  by  the 
First  National  Bank  was  the  "McGaughey  Corner."  There  was  a 
large  tin  shop  here  which  reached  back  toward  the  present  Tuell's 
Grocery,  which  has  become  something  of  a  local  landmark  in 
recent  years.  The  Forees  came  in  later  years  and  established  their 
first  medical  practice  on  this  block  before  moving,  in  1930,  to  the 
city's  first  hospital,  which  they  had  built. 

Moving  south  across  Jackson  Street  to  the  corner  recently 
occupied  by  Woolworths,  and  once  occupied  by  Riddles  Drugs 
before  it  moved  down  the  block  and  became  Riddle  and  Wallace, 
was  the  location  of  Dutch  Cunninghams  Drugs.  Above  the 
drugstore  was  an  exclusive  private  association,  the  Eastanalle  Club, 
where  the  self-appointed  business  and  professional  elite  of  the 
community  regularly  convened.  Many  of  the  important  political, 
social,  and  economic  decisions  affecting  the  community  were  made 
within  the  confines  of  this  circle. 

Moving  along  to  the  site  occupied  by  the  Strand  Theatre  and 
Heird's  Drugs  was  the  "Atlee  Corner," and  across  White  Street  at 
the  old  First  Farmers  Bank  location  was  the  "Grubb  Corner."  A 
large,  open  ditch,  with  several  bridges  and  crosswalks,  ran  along 
the  west  side  of  White  Street  from  Depot  Hill  to  the  Eastanallee 
Creek  (the  Indian  spelling,  Oostanaula,  is  often  used  today)  and 
for  many  years  was  a  source  of  great  consternation  to  the  citizenry. 


58  Tennessee  County  History  Series 


Mule  trading  day  in  Athens  before  the  turn  of  the  century 

Finally,  to  the  east  across  Washington  Street  on  the  "Crow 
Corner"  was  a  meat  and  produce  market  run  by  Jim  Crow  and 
a  grocery  store  run  by  his  son,  George.  On  down  the  block  to  the 
present  Citizens  Bank,  where  Miller  s  Department  Store  with  its 
unique  cable-and-cup  money-carrying  system  once  stood,  was 
the  "Crawford  Corner."  Yet  another  dry  goods  store  and  a  public 
well  originally  occupied  this  location. 

Tradition  says,  according  to  Keith,  that  the  McGaughey  Cor- 
ner was  the  gathering  place  of  those  of  Whig/Unionist  senti- 
ments, and  the  Crawford  Corner  the  focal  point  of  old  Democrat/ 
Confederate  persuasion.  On  many  occasions  the  air  around  the 
square  was  highly  charged  with  political  tension.  It  was  not  un- 
usual for  tempers  to  become  aroused  and  for  blows  to  be  struck. 
In  a  later  generation,  this  same  square  erupted  in  a  political  ex- 
plosion which  would  be  heard  throughout  the  nation. 

Before  the  turn  of  the  century  a  narrow  gauge  track  ran  from 
Depot  Hill  down  present-day  Jackson  Street,  turned  left  at  the 


McMINN  59 

square,  and  ran  on  out  toward  where  the  First  Baptist  Church 
is  today.  The  track  stopped  at  what  was  then  Tobe  Getty's  corn- 
field. George  Brown  operated  the  small  car,  which  was  pulled  by 
a  team  of  mules. 

Weston  A.  Goodspeeds  biographical  sketches  in  History  of  East 
Tennessee  provide  only  brief  glimpses,  but  leave  little  doubt  that 
there  were  vigorous,  intelligent,  industrious,  and  ambitious  peo- 
ple in  the  county  after  the  Civil  War.  William  Dixon  came  to 
McMinn  County  with  25£  and  a  suit  of  clothes;  by  1886  he  was 
worth  $10,000.  George  W  Foster,  who  "made  himself  quite  fa- 
mous as  a  horse  dealer,"  was  a  Republican  and  served  with  the 
Federal  forces  "during  the  late  war."  "He  is  not  a  member  of  any 
church,  but  believes  in  the  Bible.  His  wife  is  a  professor  of  re- 
ligion, but  had  not  yet  connected  herself  with  any  church."  Wil- 
liam L.  Harbison,  after  serving  with  the  Confederate  forces, 
returned  to  East  Tennessee  in  1869;  "but  as  someone  attempted 
to  assassinate  him,  for  safety  he  resided  in  Decatur  and  other 
points  in  Tennessee.... He  returned  to  Athens  in  1875  where  he 
had  a  lucrative  law  practice.... The  Harbisons  are  of  Irish  ex- 
traction and,  without  exception,  Democrats. "James  M.  Hender- 
son, president  of  the  First  National  Bank,  represented  the  county 
at  the  constitutional  convention  in  Nashville  in  1865.  James 
Howard  Hood,  who  founded  the  McMinn  Citizen  newspaper, 
"advanced  so  rapidly  in  his  studies  that  he  passed  examinations 
and  became  a  public  school  teacher  at  the  age  of  seventeen. "About 
1885  he  left  his  teaching  position  to  become  the  railroad  station 
agent  at  Mouse  Creek  (Niota).  James  T  Johnson  was  wounded 
in  the  hand  at  Fort  Donelson,  "and  was  saved  from  another  by 
his  cartridge  box,  which  stopped  a  bullet."  He  was  captured  and 
imprisoned  for  seven  months  at  Camp  Morton  in  Indianapolis. 
By  1886  he  was  a  "well-to-do  farmer." J.  H.  Lusk  "located  in  Ath- 
ens in  1879... and  is  one  of  the  most  popular  and  efficient  sales- 
men in  the  county,  where  he  is  universally  known  and  highly 
respected."  The  merchant  Benjamin  F.  Martin  was  a  self-made 
and  highly  respected  man,  who  came  to  Calhoun  with  only  a  wife 
and  a  pony.  Frank  B.  McElwee,  who  manufactured  cotton  goods, 
"belonged  to  the  U.S.  Army  Secret  Service  and... at  different  times 


60  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

piloted  the  Union  Army  through  the  mountains  of  East  Ten- 
nessee."James  Oliphant,  who  was  retired  at  the  time  Goodspeed 
wrote,  began  his  medical  practice  with  only  $5,  and  by  the  be- 
ginning of  the  war  was  worth  over  $15,000.  Joseph  C.  Rucker, 
well-known  and  enterprising  farmer,  "went  to  Nashville  to  join 
the  Union  Army,  but  decided  to  return  home  and  protect  his 
mother. "James  P.  Thompson,  after  one  year  of  study  under  Dr. 
T.J.  Evans  in  Charleston,  was  ready  to  practice  dentistry,  which 
he  did  for  nine  years.  He  was  also  a  successful  trader  in  livestock, 
mules  and  horses.  James  D.  Williams,  leading  merchant  and 
postmaster  at  Williamsburg,  "began  life  a  poor  man,  but  by  in- 
dustry and  careful  management  has  accumulated  a  fair  portion 
of  the  worlds  goods."  He  was  a  Royal  Arch  Mason,  a  Democrat, 
and  a  straight  prohibitionist.  William  P.  Willson,  well-known  and 
enterprising  planter  who  owned  nearly  520  acres,  "has  been  a 
live  and  progressive  man,  but  not  ambitious  for  wealth."  These 
detailed  here,  and  others  like  them,  gave  to  McMinn  County  the 
sweat  of  their  brow  and  the  strength  of  their  hearts. 

A  large  number  of  individuals  and  businesses  became  firmly 
established  in  the  county  during  the  period  immediately  follow- 
ing World  War  I.  The  growing  economy  allowed  for  the  creation 
of  a  professional  and  business  establishment  that  served  as  the 
cornerstone  for  community  growth  over  the  next  half  century. 
A  brief  description  of  the  leading  businesses  and  professions, 
based  on  the  1921  centennial  edition  of  The  Semi-Weekly  Post,  is 
in  order. 

Live  Oaks  Farms  was  the  predecessor  of  the  regionally  well- 
known  Mayfield  Dairy  Farms.  A 1922  advertisement  read:  "T  B. 
Mayfield  and  Son  are  among  the  best  farmers  of  the 
county.... Cattle  Tuberculine  Tested — dairy  products  from  tu- 
berculine  tested  cattle  should  command  your  first  consideration, 
and  its  importance  cannot  be  overestimated." The  Mayfield  op- 
eration also  included  the  sale  of  cattle,  horses,  mules,  and  "fa- 
mous" Berkshire  hogs. 

In  1928  F.  O.  Mahery,  Sr.,  who  had  been  involved  in  the 
Walthall  and  Mahery  lumber  and  crosstie  operation,  took  over 
leadership  of  the  Athens  Stove  Works  which  had  opened  in 


McMINN  61 


Mayfields  Dairy  Farms — perhaps  the  best  known  business  in  the  county 

1924.  In  the  33  years  of  Maherys  presidency,  the  company 
moved  from  wood  and  coal  stoves  to  gas  in  1932  and  electric 
in  1956.  The  company  motto,  "Vesta  Stoves  for  Better  Living 
— Everywhere, "became  a  national  slogan. 

After  it  introduced  a  new  tractor  plow  invented  by  Jay 
Stevenson,  who  worked  for  McMinn  Motor  Company,  the  Ath- 
ens Plow  Company  became  a  major  industrial  concern  in  the 
county.  E.  L.  Willson,  its  president,  established  himself  as  a  key 
leader  in  the  local  business  community.  In  the  mid-1940s  J.  H. 
Taylor  moved  from  Athens  Plow  to  produce  his  own  farm  equip- 
ment inventions  at  Taylor  Implement  Manufacturing  Company. 
The  Dennis  Foundry  did  much  of  the  casting  of  heavy  metal  for 
the  local  industries. 

The  Athens  Furniture  Company,  which  became  Athens  Ta- 
ble and  Manufacturing  Company,  was  owned  by  the  Hoback 
family.  Carl,  Richard,  and  Sarah  Bayless  were  instrumental  in 
the  company's  operation.  The  Post  chronicler  said  of  Sarah  that 
"her  untiring  interest  has  proven  how  valuable  the  services  of  a 
woman  may  become." 

The  success  of  the  Athens  Hosiery  Mill  resulted  from  the 
creativity  and  genius  of  R.  J.  Fisher,  Sr.  His  sons:  R.  J.5  Jr.,  who 
had  strong  design  and  technical  expertise,  and  Ed,  whose  ca- 
maraderie with  the  mill  employees  is  still  well-remembered  in 


62  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

North  Athens,  later  managed  the  firm.  The  mill  became  famous 
for  its  "Spartan,"  "Takoma  Pear,"  and  "Maid  of  Athens"  brands 
which  were  distributed  throughout  the  world.  The  products  of 
this  mill  were  probably  the  first  to  represent  McMinn  County 
internationally. 

There  were  three  drugstores  in  1921.  The  Horton  family  had 
been  important  to  the  business  development  of  the  county  al- 
most since  its  inception,  and  Joe  Horton  had  operated  Horton 
and  Sons  Drugs,  with  his  son  Glen,  for  48  years.  The  Post  writer 
was  correct  in  saying  that  Miles  A.  Riddle  in  eleven  years  had 
built  "a  business  which  will  remain  one  of  Athens' greater  insti- 
tutions during  the  years  to  come."  Ed  Heird,  who  was  from  Meigs 
County,  worked  for  Riddle  and  later  opened  his  own  drugstore 
on  the  same  block.  Of  the  Julian  Pharmacy,  which  no  longer  ex- 
ists, the  Post  rhapsodized:  "his  soda  jerker  juggles  a  wicked  glass. 
His  fountain  dispenses  all  the  frozen  and  semi-artistic  dainties 
usually  found  in  a  metropolitan  palace  of  sweets,  which  causes 
the  cash  register  to  tinkle  merrily." 

There  were  a  large  variety  of  general  merchandise  and  hard- 
ware stores  which  by  the  early  1920s  had  begun  to  develop  spe- 
cialties. The  J.  W.  Colston  Store  had  been  in  operation  since  1894. 
The  J.  Nat  Moore  Hardware  was  the  leading  name  in  feed  and 
seed  sales  in  the  county  for  many  years.  Today,  it  specializes  in 
home  appliances.  Bayless  Hardware  had  just  added  a  furniture 
and  music  department,  and  Lackey  Hardware,  with  Leuty  Owen 
as  its  main  clerk,  had  begun  to  sell  Buick  automobiles.  Lackeys 
full-page  Christmas  ad  offered  the  chance  to  win  a  75-piece  din- 
nerware  set  worth  $65.00,  a  considerable  amount  for  that  time. 

Ford  vehicles  were  sold  by  McMinn  Motor  Company  which 
continues  to  exist.  The  dealership  was  led  by  Cyril  Jones,  brother 
of  the  important  political  figure  Clem  Jones,  and  Hugh  Lowery. 
Marshall  J.  Keith  sold  Chevrolets  and  Studebakers  at  Athens 
Motor  Company.  Gasoline  for  these  automobiles  was  provided 
by  Dixie  Filling  Station  where,  according  to  the  Post,  W.  E.  Clark 
"exchanges  the  product  of  John  D.  for  the  product  of  the  United 
States  Mint."  The  big  selling  feature  was  "visible  gas"  and  the 
company  carried  Mansfield,  Silvertown,  Oxford,  and  Rem- 


McMINN  63 

ington  tires.  R.J.  Haley  Rubber  Company  sold  tires  and  vulcan- 
ized its  own  rubber. 

Insurance  companies  were  popular  during  this  period.  Dod- 
son  Insurance  Agency,  the  oldest  in  the  county,  was  founded  by 
William  Calvin  Dodson  in  1899  and  operated  until  1968  under 
the  able  and  memorable  direction  of  Frank  Dodson.  It  was  re- 
cently merged  into  the  Athens  Insurance  Agency.  L.  H.  Hoback, 
one  of  the  best-known  music  directors  in  the  region,  and  C.  F. 
Keith,  Jr.,  the  ranking  major  of  the  state  national  guard,  also 
headed  insurance  agencies. 

J.  H.  Neil,  father  of  the  well-known  Joe  Wheeler  Neil,  op- 
erated a  grocery  store  at  the  corner  of  Jackson  and  Washington 
Street  for  many  years.  D.  B.  Shoemaker  and  his  wife  Marie,  a 
war  bride  from  France,  opened  a  grocery  business  which  was  so 
successful  the  store  building  itself  fell  in  because  of  the  weight 
of  the  stock  that  had  to  be  kept  on  hand.  Bud  Steed  operated 
the  first  "chain"  grocery  with  two  locations  in  the  county.  In  the 
1960s,  in  spite  of  the  entrance  of  national  grocery  chains  into  the 
community,  Alfred  McKeehan  started  a  local  store  which  even- 
tually had  branches  in  most  of  the  counties  of  southeast  Tennessee. 

In  addition  to  the  clothes  that  were  sold  in  the  general  mer- 
chandise stores,  specialty  apparel  shops  were  established.  Owen 
and  Company  was  highly  visible  for  many  years  on  the  square 
in  Athens.  James  Cravey,  a  salesperson,  later  opened  his  own  dry 
goods  store.  Kate  Fox  operated  a  hat  shop  (a  millinery),  and  the 
Smith  Bootery  claimed  to  be  able  to  "fit  the  pedal  extremities  of 
either  Cinderella  or  Goliath."  In  1915  Morris  Goodfriend  be- 
came the  first  important  Jewish  merchant  in  the  county.  The 
Goodfriend  name  continues  to  be  identified  with  the  finest  in 
mens  wear.  In  later  years  Simon  Monen  continued  the  tradition 
of  excellent  Jewish  business  establishments  in  the  community. 

The  First  National  Bank,  established  in  1872,  came  to  prom- 
inence with  leaders  such  as  J.  M.  Henderson,  James  Hornsby, 
R.  M.,  R.  J.,  and  James  G.  Fisher,  Clem  Jones,  and  S.  F.  Gettys. 
The  former  downtown  branch  building  had  just  been  completed 
in  1921  and  was  the  showplace  of  East  Tennessee  according  to 
the  local  promotions.  In  1938  Pat  Love  came  to  Athens  from 


64  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

Morristown  and  bought  controlling  interest  in  the  First  Farmers 
Bank  from  Tom  Sherman.  On  May  1,  1940,  he  assumed  presi- 
dency of  the  bank  and,  along  with  his  brother  Founta,  operated 
the  well-known  institution  until  1968.  The  bank  was  eventually 
sold  to  a  group  of  businessmen  from  Memphis  who  were  backed 
by  the  First  National  Bank  of  that  city. 

Finally,  there  were  several  highly  specialized  businesses  which 
were  doing  well  during  the  postwar  period.  The  Strand  Theatre, 
which  was  called  "The  Palace"  until  1916  and  was  the  first  movie 
house  in  the  county  to  succeed,  continued  in  operation  until  about 
1980.  W.  W.  Padgett  Marble  Company  sent  exquisite  Tennessee 
and  Georgia  marble  throughout  the  world.  Coming  from  a  far 
corner  of  the  world  for  that  day,  Dr.  J.  A.  Saliba  of  Betargin, 
Syria,  opened  a  sanitorium  on  the  site  of  the  present  Hammer- 
Johnson  Supply  Company.  The  hospital  was  in  the  Blizzard  House, 
a  mansionlike  building  across  the  street  from  the  Monday  House, 
another  local  hotel. 

Of  the  varied  material  in  The  Semi-Weekly  Post  special  edition, 
the  description  of  the  Athens  Steam  Laundry  is  the  most  unfor- 
gettable. Under  the  heading  "Let  Her  Live  a  Little  Longer  "and 
the  subheading  "Olliker  Walliker,  Olliker  Rocks,  Let  the  Laun- 
dry Wash  Your  Socks,"  the  business  of  the  youthful,  enterprising 
Cecil  Martin  is  thus  saluted: 

When  the  average  resident  of  Athens  learns  that  the  wife's  energy, 
effort  and  muscle  is  worth  considerable  more  than  the  dime  nec- 
essary to  "get  the  laundry  to  do  it,"  and  that  sanitation  as  a  general 
thing  is  a  minus  quality  in  the  laundry  of  "Aunt  Diana,"  and  that 
the  Athens  Steam  Laundry  employs  no  chink  to  squirt  and  spray 
the  water  through  his  nose  over  the  delicate  kerchief  and  the  but- 
tonless  night  shirt,  then  and  then  only  will  the  business  of  the  Ath- 
ens Steam  Laundry  pick  up,  materially. 

In  1921  the  object  of  the  greatest  excitement  in  the  county 
was  the  work  on  the  state's  first  concrete  highway  which  was  being 
constructed  from  the  Hiwassee  River  north  to  Athens.  The  pav- 
ing of  streets  in  Athens  to  join  with  this  modern  Lee  Highway 
became  a  source  of  great  civic  pride. 


The  first  highly  mechanized  equipment  used  to  work  county  roads.  In 
this  1923  photograph  the  caterpillar  is  pulling  a  road  grader. 

The  rock  for  the  highway  project  was  dug  and  crushed  at  the 
present  site  of  Knox  Park.  A  short  section  of  the  road  still  exists 
from  the  city  of  Calhoun  to  U.S.  Highway  11.  As  a  young  man 
in  his  early  twenties,  my  father,  Bob  Byrum,  was  employed  by 
the  state  to  test  the  concrete.  This  involved  drilling  out  a  core 
every  fifty  feet,  with  each  new  hole  one  foot  over  from  the  pre- 
ceding one.  It  was  undoubtedly  a  laborious  process  to  follow  this 
pattern  the  14  miles  from  the  Hiwassee  River  bridge  to  the  Ath- 
ens city  limits.  The  road-builders  were  making  history,  and  there 
was  always  a  curious  and  inquisitive  group  of  onlookers  to  help 
pass  the  day. 

In  1933  J.  M.  Sharp  published  a  personal  memoir  entitled  Rec- 
ollections and  Hearsays  of  Athens  Fifty  Years  and  Beyond  which  consti- 
tutes the  most  detailed  historical  recollection  of  McMinn  County, 
and  particularly  Athens,  to  date.  Sharp  had  been  involved  in  a  va- 
riety of  occupations  that  included  teaching  school  and  delivering 
newspapers.  He  had  a  distinct  flair  for  words  and,  in  addition  to 
his  historical  material,  had  published  poetry  and  a  booklet  entitled 
"Letters  to  the  Man  in  the  Moon."  Sharps  record  provides  at  least 
a  glimpse  at  important  figures  between  the  wars. 


66  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

During  this  particular  period  the  community  probably  had 
as  many  physicians  as  at  any  time  in  its  history.  Dr.  J.  R.  Nanki- 
ville  was  the  oldest  doctor  in  town  and,  in  addition  to  his  medical 
work,  contributed  immeasurably  to  the  advancement  of  edu- 
cation in  the  area.  Dr.  J.  L.  Proudfoot  (who  had  practiced  from 
a  house  on  the  Eastanallee  between  the  present  Cooke  Box  and 
Mayfield's)  had  just  died  and  the  community  had  given  his  family 
a  house  so  that  they  could  remain  in  Athens.  Dr.  J.  O.  Foree,  who 
had  established  a  clinic,  had  passed  from  the  scene  but  his  two 
sons,  Ed  and  Carey,  were  carrying  on  in  the  hospital  they  estab- 
lished in  1930.  Dr.  L.  W.  Spradling  was  well-known  for  his  avo- 
cations; he  was  a  mechanic,  writer,  and  landscape  painter,  and 
according  to  Sharp  "an  all  around  versatile  genius,  a  ra- 
diator of  sunshine."  Drs.  Ross  Arrants,  Brock,  Dubois,  Roy 
Epperson  (who  opened  a  second  hospital  in  January  of  1936), 
and  Janeway  completed  the  list  of  physicians.  In  addition  to 
these  men,  Dr.  G.  W.  Stanton  had  become  popular  as  the 
physician  identified  with  North  Athens. 

The  primary  building  material  of  the  period  was  wood,  so 
lumber  yards  and  building  supply  houses  were  important.  Tom 
Sherman,  who  may  be  the  richest  man  in  the  county's  history, 
and  Mel  Hammer  owned  the  Sherman-Hammer  Company.  Hugh 
and  Charles  Hoback  operated  the  Athens  Planing  Mill;  the 
Duckworth  Planing  Mill  was  also  prominent.  Furniture  was  an- 
other necessity  so  the  Johnson  and  McSpadden  families  entered 
the  county  business  community  in  the  time  between  the  wars; 
both  continue  to  be  prominent.  Among  the  attorneys  repre- 
sented were  Judge  S.  C.  Brown  and  E.  B.  Madison  who  had  been 
in  the  area  for  the  longest  period  of  time  in  1933.  H.  M.  Chan- 
dler, in  addition  to  his  legal  activities  in  the  county,  had  served 
24  years  in  the  state  legislature;  Jimmie  Clark  and  Tom  Taylor 
had  each  been  in  the  legislature  for  one  term.  Clem  Jones  and 
R.  A.  Davis  became  prominent  because  of  their  involvement  with 
both  the  Southern  and  L&N  railroads.  Among  the  younger  men 
in  the  profession  were  Paul  Stewart  and  R.  N.  Ivins. 

Among  the  teachers  mentioned  by  Sharp  were  Professor 
J.  C.  Ridenour,  who  had  been  principal  at  Forrest  Hill  School 


McMINN  67 

for  eighteen  years,  and  Professor  J.  H.  Walker,  who  had  been 
principal  of  North  Athens  School.  Mrs.  Laura  Sliger  and  Annie 
Sliger  taught  for  many  years  in  the  city  school  system. 

ADeSoto-Plymouth  Agency  opened  under  the  management 
of  Mitchell  Hanks  and  J.  M.  Millard;  Mooney  Tallentand  Dillard 
Brown  worked  here.  Another  garage  was  operated  by  the  Wil- 
kins  family.  Mrs.  R.  J.  McKeldin  was  the  local  florist  and  there 
were  two  undertakers,  that  owned  by  Harry  Evans  and  the  new 
Quissenberry  and  Forrest.  Sharp  concluded  his  list  of  luminaries 
by  remembering  his  own  colleagues,  the  paper  carriers,  about 
whom  he  said:  "We  carry  papers  to  the  palace  of  the  rich  and  the 
hovel  of  the  poor,  and  thus  we  help  the  knights  of  the  quill." 

Industrial  and  community  growth  in  the  county  was  not  con- 
fined to  Athens.  Tobe  Gettys,  who  owned  a  woolen  mill  south  of 
Riceville,  constructed  a  depot  on  the  Southern  line  and  named 
it  "Sanford"  after  a  prominent  Knoxville  family.  This  small  com- 
munity was  also  the  home  of  a  large  business  in  the  production 
and  shipment  or  railroad  ties.  Meanwhile,  by  the  early  part  of 
the  twentieth  century,  the  names  of  Bolen,  Henry,  and  McAlister 
had  become  important  in  Calhoun  business  circles.  Dr.  H.  F. 
Taylor,  who  served  a  good  deal  of  the  county  from  his  office 
in  Calhoun,  cannot  be  omitted. 

The  names  of  Bishop,  Erickson,  Oliphant,  Parkinson,  Porter, 
Swafford,  and  Womac  came  to  be  of  lasting  important  in  Rice- 
ville. The  remains  of  the  old  Porter  house  (recently  gutted  by 
fire)  still  stand  south  of  Riceville  on  U.S.  Highway  11.  Charlie 
Miller  restored  the  house  and  used  the  land  to  develop  one  of 
the  largest  pedigreed  Angus  cattle  farms  in  the  state. 

Charles  Rice,  founder  of  the  town,  organized  a  train  of  50 
wagons  and  moved  to  Arkansas  in  1859.  C.  W  Oliphant  clerked 
in  the  store  that  Rice  sold  to  a  relative,  and  later  established  his 
own  mercantile  business  before  selling  out  to  J.  M.  Lockmiller 
and  becoming  a  famed  salesman.  Dan  Roberts  became  an  im- 
portant business  figure  after  expanding  a  drugstore  into  a  gen- 
eral merchandise  enterprise  in  1897.  Ben  Bishop  had  a  wagon 
shop  in  the  earliest  times  and  was  assisted  by  Charlie  and  Dave 


68 


Tennessee  County  History  Series 


Dr.  J.  A.  Parkinson  of  Riceville  in  1900.  Note  the  produce  on  his  wagon 
which  he  has  received  as  payment. 

Boyd,  the  latter  a  well-known  blacksmith  for  over  65  years.  Charlie 
Boyd  gained  fame  as  an  inventor  of  a  variety  of  tools  and  ma- 
chines. Bill  Vaughn  operated  a  tanyard,  and  his  son,  along  with 
the  Vincent  family,  gained  a  name  for  creating  fine  furniture. 

Although  relatively  small  since  its  incorporation  in  191 1,  with 
H.  A.  Collins  as  the  first  chairman  of  the  city  commission,  Niota 
has  always  been  considered  a  well-established  and  progressive 
town.  The  persons  who  have  come  to  be  of  significant  influence 
in  the  Niota  community  since  the  turn  of  the  century  have  inev- 
itably risen  to  places  of  importance  in  the  county  and,  in  fact,  in 
the  state  as  a  whole. 

Niota  began  as  a  station  of  the  ET&G  Railroad  before  the 
Civil  War,  known  as  Mouse  Creek.  H.  L.  Schultz  developed  a 
community  by  selling  building  lots.  The  first  industry  of  any  con- 
sequence was  a  tanyard  started  by  Eli  Dixon,  Jr.  The  "Tan  Yard" 
changed  hands  until  1879  when  it  became  the  property  of 
Samuel  P.  Blair.  By  this  time,  the  community  had  grown  and 


McMINN  69 


.--rTH^ttttttHttttt'tttHt^lP^i-iUtt--' 


The  Mouse  Creek/Niota  depot  in  1905.  Pictured  here,  from  left,  are 
H.  B.  Burn;  J.  L.  (Jack)  Burn;  W.  A.  Burn;  J.  L.  (Jim)  Burn,  Depot 
Agent;  James  P.  Lewis;  and  John  I.  Forrest  (on  horse). 

boasted  of  one  of  the  best-known  educational  institutions  in 
the  area,  Mouse  Creek  Academy. 

Blair  is  also  remembered  for  his  aid  in  establishing  the  Cum- 
berland Presbyterian  Church  in  Niota.  The  casting  of  a  church 
bell  was  always  significant,  and  Blair,  with  three  others,  paid  for 
this  undertaking.  The  names  of  the  "Four  Bs"were  inscribed  on 
the  bell:  Blair,  Brock,  Buttram,  and  Burnes.  It  is  ironic,  given 
the  important  role  that  the  Burn  family  played  in  the  history  of 
the  community,  that  the  bell  makers  incorrectly  spelled  their  name 
on  this  artifact  that  now  hangs  in  the  Methodist  Church  steeple. 

Unfortunately,  Blair  eventually  experienced  financial  disas- 
ter. In  1913,  in  a  foreclosure  sale,  most  of  his  Niota  holdings  were 
bought  by  James  L.  Burn  and  W.  F.  Forrest  for  the  Crescent  Ho- 
siery Mill  which  they  had  organized  to  give  employment  to  mem- 
bers of  the  growing  community. 

The  Crescent  mill  became  a  central  fixture  of  the  community. 


70  Tennessee  County  Histoiy  Series 

The  first  stockholders  included  several  members  of  the  Burn 
family,  Forrest,  J.  C.  Gate,  T.J.  Isbell,  and  H.  M.  and  R.  S.  Will- 
son.  H.  M.  Willson  became  the  first  president  and  J.  L.  Burn  was 
the  vice-president.  W.  L.  Forrest  managed  it  until  the  1930s.  In 
later  years  Hugh  Willson,  grandson  of  H.  M.  Willson,  became 
the  head  of  the  Citizens  National  Bank,  a  thriving  institution  in 
the  county.  The  Forrest  family  name  was  carried  on  by  the 
J.  Ben  Forrest  Hardware  and  Furniture  Company.  The  family 
of  the  first  city  commission  chairman,  H.  A.  Collins,  became  in- 
volved in  a  successful  feedstore  and  the  advancement  of  edu- 
cation in  the  community. 

The  other  central  fixture  in  the  community's  growth  and  de- 
velopment has  been  the  Bank  of  Niota.  In  fact,  Dun  andBradstreet 
(1920)  described  the  village  as  "a  banking  town."  The  bank  was 
organized  the  same  year  that  the  town  was  incorporated. 
J.  L.  Burn  served  as  the  first  president  and  H.  M.  Willson  was 
the  vice-president.  C.  B.  Staley  became  cashier  in  1913  and  re- 
mained with  the  bank  until  his  death  in  1971. 

Niota  provides  a  good  example  of  one  aspect  of  the  devel- 
opment of  many  communities  throughout  the  nineteenth  and 
early  twentieth  centuries — fires.  Because  of  the  lack  of  water  sys- 
tems, it  was  not  uncommon  for  fires  to  destroy  important  build- 
ings and  to  devastate  entire  towns.  Niota  seems  to  have  had  more 
than  its  share.  The  entire  business  section  burned  in  1897,  an- 
other fire  destroyed  a  major  business  in  1910,  and  a  section  of 
the  business  district  was  again  destroyed  in  the  late  1920s.  As  late 
as  1966,  fire  continued  to  play  havoc  with  the  town  when  its  ma- 
jor industry,  Crescent  Mill,  burned. 

Athens  experienced  the  same  disasters  time  and  again.  Many 
citizens  can  recall  the  Red  Elephant  Fire,  the  first  high  school 
fire  in  the  late  1940s,  the  loss  of  the  original  Keith  Memorial 
Methodist  Church,  the  second  high  school  fire  in  the  1950s,  and 
the  burning  of  the  beautifully  restored  and  meticulously  re- 
modeled county  court  house  in  1964. 

To  return  to  Niota,  the  way  that  its  name  was  determined  is 
intriguing.  Originally  called  "Mouse  Creek,"  there  was  continual 


McMINN 


71 


The  county  courthouse  after  its  remodeling  and  before  it  was  de- 
stroyed by  fire 

confusion  of  mail  and  freight  with  a  "Mossy  Creek,"  present-day 
Jefferson  City.  When  ice  cream  for  a  local  celebration  ended  up 
melting  on  the  loading  dock  at  Mossy  Creek  something  had  to 
be  done.  According  to  James  Burn,  a  local  railroad  agent  had 
suggested  "Movilla"  since  the  Morse  code  station  call  letter  "MO" 
would  not  have  to  be  changed.  Several  local  citizens  sent  their 
ideas  to  the  railroad  superintendent;  John  Boggess's  suggestion 
was  included  just  as  the  train  to  carry  the  dispatch  envelope  ar- 
rived. Boggess's  suggestion  of  Niota,  which  was  supposedly  the 
name  of  an  Indian  chief  in  a  novel  he  was  reading,  was  selected. 
Burn  also  recalls  that  the  original  pronunciation  was  "Nee-o-tah." 
Niota  became  the  social  center  for  the  entire  county  with  the 
establishment  of  Springbrook  Golf  and  County  Club  which,  for 
many  years,  was  the  only  facility  of  its  sort  in  the  area.  The  coun- 
try club  has  continued  to  be  the  center  of  the  social  and  recre- 


Tennessee  County  History  Series 


The  Etowah  YMCA  Building  as  it  stood  in  the  early  1900s  to  welcome 
the  influx  of  railroaders 

ational  activities  of  the  county's  business,  professional,  and  political 
leaders. 

Etowah  came  into  existence  because  of  the  L&N  Railroad. 
The  railroad  at  first  had  tried  to  purchase  lands  for  major  shops 
and  a  terminal  at  both  Tellico  Junction  and  Wetmore  but,  failing 
to  do  so,  it  ultimately  bought  nearly  1500  acres  from  the  farms 
of  Joseph  Cobb,  James  L.  Cooper,  William  Paris,  William  T.  Peck, 
Robert  Reynolds,  and  Robert  Smith  for  $20  per  acre.  News  of 
the  creation  of  a  new  town  immediately  brought  an  influx  of 
businessmen  from  all  over  the  South.  Soon  the  whole  area  was 
alive  with  activity;  by  April  8, 1909,  when  the  town  was  chartered, 
it  had  officially  taken  up  the  railroad  construction  crew's  name 
of  "Etowah"  (meaning  "muddy  waters"). 

The  town  was  laid  out  in  a  grid  pattern  with  avenues  named 
for  states  running  north  and  south,  and  numbered  streets  run- 
ning at  right  angles  to  them.  The  first  construction  became  Ten- 
nessee Avenue  and  this  thoroughfare,  joined  with  U.S.  Highway 


McMINN 


73 


Tennessee  Avenue  in  Etowah  immediately  after  the  L&N  established 
the  town.  The  arrow  designated  the  famed  "Blue  Front." 


411,  has  become  the  main  business  district.  The  first  businesses 
were  established  to  take  care  of  the  construction  crews  and  later 
railroad  workers.  John  Rains  put  up  a  small  shanty  near  the  new 
tracks  which  served  as  both  a  store  and  Etowah's  first  post  office. 
J.N.  Lewis,  who  had  operated  a  store  at  Grady  three  miles  north 
on  the  L&N,  moved  to  Etowah  with  the  new  tracks  and  became 
a  leading  businessman.  The  Etowah  Enterprise,  an  excellent  pub- 
lication later  edited  by  Frank  McKinney,  was  first  published  on 
January  5,  1907. 

The  first  major  businesses  that  involved  large-scale  construc- 
tion were  the  hotel-boarding  houses  that  sprang  up  throughout 
the  town — the  Ownbey  Boarding  House,  the  Carlock  Hotel,  the 
Risk  Hotel,  the  Glenora  Hotel  (named  for  Glen  Froneberger  and 
Ora  Nichols,  daughters  of  the  first  owners),  the  Hotel  Stafford, 
the  Mountain  View  Hotel,  and  the  Tennessee  Hotel.  The  Hotel 
Stafford  outlasted  all  the  others.  The  L&N  YMCA  was  a  land- 
mark from  1908  until  1929;  it  was  the  site  of  all  kinds  of  com- 


74  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

munity  affairs  from  town  meetings  to  evangelistic  rallies.  The 
Glenora  Hotel  was  distinguished  because  of  its  cigar  factory. 
"Glenora  Cigars"  were  made  by  N.  G.  Dixon. 

The  first  general  store  was  opened  by  Lewis'  partner,  O.  L. 
Davis,  and  was  followed  by  similar  stores  run  by  E.  A.  Adams, 
McKinney  Brothers,  M.  M.  and  H.  H.  Miller,  Reed  Brothers,  and 
H.  D.  Rule  and  Company.  AJ.  C.  Penney  Company  store  came 
later.  A  store  called  "The  Blue  Front"  became  one  of  the  best 
known  locations  in  the  city.  It  was  an  extremely  important  meet- 
ing place  for  the  community,  and  several  churches  and  fraternal 
groups  were  organized  and  met  there. 

Other  early  businesses  included:  a  furniture  store,  Sterchi 
Brothers  and  Tillery,  which  arose  from  the  partnership  of  the 
Knoxville-based  furniture  company  and  J.  M.  Tillery;  Carl  Cen- 
ter and  N.  C.  Powell's  hardware  store;  O.  A.  Rule  Furniture 
Company;  and  Cunningham  and  Watts  Livery.  Hugh  Manning 
established  the  Gem  Theatre  (later  the  Martin)  in  1918,  and  stayed 
to  become  one  of  the  leading  citizens  in  the  town's  early  history. 

P.  A.  Kinser  opened  the  first  drugstore  in  Etowah,  which  later 
became  Gem  Drugs,  Charles  E.  McConkey  moved  from  Monroe 
County  in  1908  to  organize  Etowah  Drugs,  and  B.  M.  Tallent 
Drugs  opened  in  1923.  Frank  Rutledge  came  to  town  in  1909 
from  Tullahoma  to  work  in  the  Etowah  Bank  and  Trust  Com- 
pany; he  later  established  an  insurance  company  and  the  Etowah 
Water  and  Light  Company.  Alex  Adams  and  his  son,  Stacy,  opened 
an  early  men's  store. 

Lawmen  were  also  needed,  and  following  S.  H.  Vandivere, 
who  was  known  as  the  "town  marshall,"  several  law  officers  have 
become  noteworthy.  Foremost  among  these  are  Burch  E.  Biggs, 
who  also  became  an  influential  political  figure  in  the  history  of 
Polk  County,  and  C.  O.  (Bull)  Kennedy.  Otto  Kennedy,  his  brother, 
also  became  a  well-known  law  officer. 

Hardly  any  business  could  have  taken  better  advantage  of  a 
"boom  town" environment  than  a  lumber  company.  R.  L.  Tucker 
established  the  Etowah  Lumber  Company  in  1910,  which  was 
later  sold  to  the  Cantrells,  helping  to  make  them  one  of  the  most 
influential  families  in  town.  Their  banking  and  political  inter- 


McMINN  75 

ests,  particularly  those  of  Paul  Cantrell,  lent  them  particular 
importance. 

Because  of  the  sudden  influx  of  railroaders  and  business- 
men, Free  Masonry  played  an  important  role  in  the  town.  By  the 
late  1920s,  there  were  more  than  half  a  dozen  Masonic  bodies 
and  an  extremely  active  chapter  of  the  Order  of  Eastern  Star.  At 
one  time  Etowah  had  the  largest  Masonic  membership  for  a  town 
of  its  size  in  the  entire  nation.  M.  L.  Bryan  served  as  the  first 
worshipful  master  of  the  Etowah  lodge,  and  Retta  Bryan,  his 
wife,  was  the  first  worthy  matron  of  the  Order  of  Eastern  Star. 

A  number  of  well-known  names  in  Etowah's  history  have  been 
those  of  attorneys.  The  first  permanent  lawyer  was  Eugene  Ivins 
who  was  the  first  city  attorney.  The  Ivins'  name  has  long  been 
important,  with  Dan  Ivins  having  served  as  town  recorder  for 
many  years.  D.  W.  Lillard,  a  hero  of  World  War  I,  came  from 
Decatur  to  practice  for  several  years.  Donald  Todd,  who  would 
ultimately  establish  Green  Hill  Cemetery,  came  to  the  city  in  1910 
to  practice  law. 

A  large  number  of  local  youngsters  became  attorneys  and 
established  their  practices  in  the  city.  These  included  Shields 
Cagle,  William  M.  Dender,  Sam  Gilreath,  C.  B.  Stanberry,  Amzy 
Steed  (who  later  became  general  counsel  for  the  Texaco  Oil  Cor- 
poration), and  Knox  and  Nell  Williams.  Cousins  Ralph  Duggan 
and  Tom  Taylor  established  practices  in  Athens  and  both  became 
important  following  World  War  II. 

Two  of  the  first  physicians  in  Etowah  were  W  R.  Froneberger 
and  J.  O.  Nichols.  They  were  keen  businessmen  and,  in  addition 
to  their  medical  practice,  each  established  a  drugstore — the  Gem 
and  Rexall  respectively — and  jointly  established  a  hotel.  Other 
early  physicians  were  H.  E.  Center,  E.  M.  Foreman,  and  Olin 
Rogers.  Early  dentists  were  E.  M.  Akins,  G.  L.  Keith,  W  S.  Moore, 
and  L.  C.  Ogle.  W  R.  Anderson  and  E.  R.  Battle  later  came  to 
town  and  practiced  for  many  years. 

Not  until  1929  did  Etowah  get  its  first  hospital.  Dr.  R  E. 
Parker  from  Sweetwater  built  a  two-story  hospital  on  Fifth 
Street  which  did  well  until  the  Depression  when  it  closed.  Dr. 
Spenser  McClary,  who  had  moved  his  practice  to  Etowah  in 


76  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

1925,  reopened  the  hospital  in  1935.  He  and  his  son,  Boyd, 
operated  it  until  the  beginning  of  World  War  II  when  Boyd 
entered  the  service  and  his  father  died. 

Upon  his  return  from  the  war  Boyd  McClary,  with  Homer 
Johnson  and  others,  began  to  seek  funds  for  a  modern  hospital 
in  Etowah.  Their  dream  and  dedicated  work  finally  were  suc- 
cessful in  1965  when  the  Hill-Burton  Act  funded  the  construc- 
tion of  the  Woods  Memorial  Hospital.  The  hospital  was  named 
for  the  parents  of  George  Woods,  a  local  political  leader  who  had 
been  instrumental  in  procuring  the  funds  that  were  finally 
approved  for  the  building  project. 

One  important  community  landmark  is  the  city  library.  The 
Carnegie  Foundation  offered  grants  before  the  second  world 
war  for  the  establishment  of  free  public  libraries  in  new  com- 
munities such  as  Etowah.  A  group  of  citizens  including  T  A.  Ab- 
ner,  A.  B.  Bayless,  C.  D.  Bevan,  N.  Z.  Dewees,John  M.Johnson, 
and  Haywood  York  obtained  a  grant  that  resulted  in  Etowah's 
having  the  only  Carnegie  Library  in  southeast  Tennessee.  Until 
1922,  while  a  new  educational  plant  was  being  constructed,  the 
local  high  school  held  classes  in  the  library. 

In  many  respects,  Etowah  is  still  a  young  town,  not  yet  close 
to  a  centennial  celebration.  Many  of  the  old  buildings  that  or- 
ginally  constituted  the  business  district  still  stand,  and  there  seems 
to  be  a  community  spirit  of  preservation  that  has  been  lacking 
elsewhere  in  the  county.  Many  beautiful  homes  still  stand  along 
tree-lined  avenues — sometimes  like  a  scene  from  some  idealized 
past.  One  can  only  imagine  what  Etowah  might  have  been  like 
today  had  the  Depression  not  occurred  and  the  L&N  not  de- 
cided against  reequipping  the  wood-car  repair  shops  to  repair 
metal  cars. 


The  Black  Community 

Unfortunately  not  much  attention  has  been  paid  to  the  de- 
velopment of  the  black  community  in  the  county  and  much  in- 
formation has  been  lost.  While  that  which  is  recalled  here  is 
certainly  incomplete,  it  is  fortunate  that  a  central  figure  of  the 


McMINN  77 

black  community  of  the  county,  Professor  W.  E.  Nash,  was  still 
alive  at  the  time  of  this  writing.  Not  only  are  Professor  Nash's 
recollections  an  important  source  of  historical  information,  but 
his  own  life  story  is  a  high  light  of  the  county's  history. 

Nash  was  born  in  Lunenburg  County,  Virginia  in  1887;  by 
the  time  he  was  eight  he  had  been  hired  out  by  his  mother  as  a 
waterboy  carrying  water  to  field  hands  working  on  large  farms. 
The  first  year  that  he  worked  he  earned  his  food  and  a  few  clothes; 
the  second  year,  he  earned  $9  and  $12  the  third.  By  the  time  he 
was  sixteen,  he  was  earning  $40  a  year,  and  had  begun  to  drive 
freight  wagons. 

Nash  had  always  had  a  desire,  encouraged  by  his  mother,  to 
get  an  education.  Undaunted  by  what  many  might  consider  a 
late  start,  he  left  home  in  1905  with  $11  and  two  pairs  of  pants, 
walked  20  miles  to  Chase  City,  Virginia,  and  entered  school. 
Working  at  whatever  jobs  were  available,  he  completed  high  school 
when  he  was  27.  He  returned  to  his  home  where  a  group  of 
parents  and  community  leaders  agreed  to  start  a  private  school 
with  Nash  as  the  teacher.  Each  of  the  50  students  paid  50^  a 
month — at  that  time,  $25  a  month  was  good  pay  for  a  teacher 
in  many  areas. 

In  less  than  a  year,  a  local  Presbyterian  group  decided  that  it 
would  be  a  good  idea  to  grant  a  scholarship  to  some  deserving 
youth  to  attend  Knoxville  College,  and  chose  Nash.  He  sold  a 
tobacco  crop  and  a  calf,  and  with  his  belongings  carried  in  a  small 
"telescope" case,  set  out  for  Knoxville.  There  he  worked  on  cam- 
pus helping  tutor  the  younger  students.  He  was  so  valuable  to 
the  college  that  when  the  U.S.  entered  World  War  I  the  president 
of  the  institution  got  him  exempted  from  the  draft  to  stay  at  the 
school  and  work.  In  1921,  following  his  graduation,  Nash  came 
to  Athens  to  be  assistant  to  J.  L.  Cook  at  the  Athens  Academy. 
Nash  knew  Booker  T.  Washington  personally,  having  met  him 
at  religious  and  educational  functions,  and  was  greatly  influ- 
enced by  him. 

When  Nash  arrived,  there  were  black  persons  in  their  80s 
and  90s  who  had  been  among  the  first  to  come  to  the  county. 
Blacks  had  originally  come  into  the  county  either  with  the  set- 


78  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

tiers,  or  as  a  result  of  being  purchased  at  "slave  sales"  up  until 
the  time  of  the  Civil  War.  By  the  1800s,  few — if  any — slaves  came 
to  this  immediate  area  directly  from  Africa.  Virginia  had  come 
to  be  known  as  the  "slave  breeding  ground,"  and  most  major 
cities  in  that  state  had  periodic  sales  in  which  the  slaves  were 
sold  at  auction. 

The  slaveowners  usually  attended  the  auctions  together,  and 
marched  the  slaves  back  to  their  new  homes  in  groups.  East  Ten- 
nessee was  a  major  route  south  toward  Atlanta.  If  someone  be- 
came ill  or  could  not  make  the  full  trip,  he  would  be  sold,  traded, 
or  given  away  along  the  route.  In  this  way,  less  affluent  people 
might  acquire  one  or  two  slaves  across  several  years.  "Slaves"  in 
this  situation  simply  meant  an  additional  hand  to  work  beside 
the  slaveowners  in  their  fields  and  mills.  The  huge  sprawl  of  cot- 
ton fields,  with  hundreds  of  field  hands  and  their  overseers  spread 
out  across  a  vast  acreage,  was  unknown  in  McMinn  County.  At 
the  height  of  slavery,  there  were  only  a  small  number  of  persons 
in  the  county  owning  more  than  half  a  dozen  slaves. 

Nash  stressed  that,  the  general  cruelties  of  the  slavery  period 
notwithstanding,  the  stories  he  had  heard  indicated  that  rela- 
tions between  the  races  were  peaceful  and  harmonious  most  of 
the  time.  People  were  respected  for  the  quality  of  their  work — 
a  hard  worker  who  was  trustworthy  and  dependable  was  con- 
sidered a  useful  member  of  the  community  regardless  of  color. 
Slothfulness  of  any  color  was,  on  the  other  hand,  despised. 
Throughout  the  middle  1900s  an  environment  was  being  cre- 
ated that  would  allow  for  movement  towards  equality  in  the  1960s. 

Four  of  the  best-known  black  citizens  who  were  still  alive  in 
the  early  1920s  were  Rose  Baker,  Isaac  Matlock,  George  Gettys, 
and  William  Keith.  As  the  names  suggest,  the  freed  slaves  as- 
sumed the  surnames  of  their  former  masters,  and  thus  the  same 
names  are  handed  down  in  the  black  community  that  are  found 
in  the  white  community.  The  names  were  typically  preceded  by 
the  respectful  designations  "Aunt" and  "Uncle"  which  came  to  be 
scorned  by  later  generations.  Mrs.  Baker  had  been  a  slave;  she 
was  an  active  community  leader  and  one  of  the  first  members 
of  the  Cumberland  Presbyterian  Church  (Freedmans  Chapel). 


McMINN  79 

Matlock  was  known  for  his  gardening  abilities;  Keith  was  a  dray- 
man delivering  freight  from  the  Southern  depot. 

Another  old  citizen  was  Pat  Spriggs,  who  gained  some  degree 
of  notoriety  because  of  an  event  that  had  occurred  during  the 
Civil  War  Spriggs,  like  several  other  young  black  men  from  the 
area,  served  in  Shermans  army,  campaigned  in  East  Tennessee, 
and  participated  in  the  "March  to  the  Sea."  One  night  near  At- 
lanta, the  cry  arose  about  two  in  the  morning  that  camp  must  be 
broken  and  a  forced  march  immediately  begun.  In  his  haste, 
Spriggs  did  not  have  time  to  pull  on  his  socks.  Evidently  a  morn- 
ing of  marching  and  a  day  of  fighting  without  socks  left  a  deep 
impression,  for  until  he  died  in  1930,  Spriggs  never  slept  a  single 
night  without  wearing  his  socks. 

Finally,  in  this  early  period,  mention  should  be  made  of  Bart 
Arnwine.  Arnwine  had  three  trademarks — a  broad  sense  of  hu- 
mor, a  shining,  double-bladed  ax,  and  the  reputation  of  being 
able  to  thresh  more  wheat  in  one  day  than  anyone  in  the  county. 
Like  several  of  these  memorable  people,  Arnwine  lived  to  be  over 
100  years  old. 

Nash  recalled  many  blacks  who  made  important  contribu- 
tions between  1921  and  1953,  when  he  was  involved  in  the  coun- 
ty's educational  system.  C.  H.  Wilson,  the  last  principal  of  the 
Athens  Academy,  was  for  50  years  the  minister  of  the  United 
Presbyterian  Church.  Walt  Dotson  operated  the  first  black  fu- 
neral establishment  and  was  an  active  Mason  in  the  highly  thought 
of  Black  Masonic  Order  in  Athens.  Bill  Scheeler  was  a  railroad 
man  and  a  minister.  Reuben  Scheeler,  for  nine  years  a  teacher 
at  Cook  High  School,  went  on  to  West  Virginia  State,  Alabama 
State,  and  Southern  University.  He  later  worked  with  immigra- 
tion officials  in  Texas. 

Brice  Buchanan  was  active  in  political,  civic,  and  church  af- 
fairs, and  for  many  years  was  the  much-beloved  janitor  at  McMinn 
County  High  School.  For  many  students  across  the  years  his  desk 
in  the  basement  boiler  room  was  a  place  of  genuine  friendliness, 
advice,  and  mutual  respect  that  knew  no  racial  lines. 

Burkett  Witt  was  also  active  in  a  broad  spectrum  of  com- 
munity concerns.  He  became  popular  as  a  chef  operating  var- 


80  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

ions  establishments  in  Athens  and  the  surrounding  area  beginning 
in  the  early  1950s.  He  then  became  active  in  community  politics, 
serving  several  terms  as  city  councilman.  In  1983  he  was  elected 
mayor  of  Athens,  the  first  black  person  to  serve  in  such  a  capacity 
in  the  entire  region. 

Nash  also  remembered  the  efforts  of  Arthur  Fergerson,  Sr, 
an  AME  minister;  Teresa  Wilson,  a  loving  teacher;  and  Horace 
King,  who  was  a  mathematical  genius,  a  meteorological  specialist 
for  the  government  in  World  War  II,  and  a  successful  textbook 
author  and  professor  at  Riverside,  California,  Junior  College. 

Professor  Nash's  recollections  of  notable  blacks  can  be  rein- 
forced by  others  mentioned  by  J.  M.  Sharp.  In  addition  to  George 
Gettys,  James  Gettys  owned  a  second  slave  named  Uncle  Nelse. 
W' hen  James  Gettys  fell  on  hard  times,  he  was  forced  to  sell  Nelse. 
He  was  purchased  by  the  Reverend  Edwin  Atlee,  who  did  not 
believe  in  slavery,  but  was  a  friend  of  Gettys.  Atlee  immediately 
arranged  a  job  going  through  the  area  buying  poultry  and  eggs 
so  that  Nelse  could  buy  his  freedom. 

On  one  trip  into  Rhea  County  Nelse  was  brought  to  the  sher- 
iff to  be  whipped  because  "he  was  too  big  for  a  negro. "The  sher- 
iff, a  man  named  Allen,  resigned  his  position  instead  of  whipping 
the  kindly  gentleman.  A  local  minister  stepped  in  and  carried 
out  the  task.  Although  the  Civil  War  came  before  the  debt  was 
paid,  Nelse  stayed  with  Atlee  until  it  was  paid  in  full.  He  later, 
with  his  wife,  was  responsible  for  taking  in  and  raising  the  or- 
phan boy,  J.L.  (Jake)  Cook. 

Sharp  also  mentions  the  following  persons:  Berry  and  Tish 
Isbell;  the  Reverend  Amos  Jackson,  whose  favorite  saying  was 
"I  had  a  kind  master  (R.  C.Jackson),  but  I  love  my  freedom — if 
I  forget  thee,  O  Republican  Party,  let  my  tongue  cleave  to  the 
roof  of  my  mouth  and  my  right  hand  forget  her  cunning";  the 
Reverend  Jacob  Armstrong  who  was  popular  in  both  black  and 
white  camp  meetings;  Roger  Sherman,  a  mechanic;  George 
Henderson,  a  bricklayer;  Peter  Wilds  and  Dick  Branum,  dray- 
men; and  Will  Matlock  and  Albert  Evans,  barbers. 

The  key  figure  of  the  period  after  1953  for  the  entire  black 
community  was  Harper  Johnson  who  was  born  near  Riceville, 


McMINN  81 

and  with  his  family  moved  to  Athens  in  the  1920s.  He  attended 
the  J.  L.  Cook  High  School,  where  he  distinguished  himself  in 
the  classroom  and  on  the  athletic  field.  Upon  graduation,  he  at- 
tended Morris  town  Junior  College,  and  then  returned  to  teach 
in  the  black  schools  of  Etowah  for  twelve  years.  During  this  time, 
Johnson  completed  his  education  and  returned  to  Cook  High  as 
a  teacher  and  coach.  In  1953,  when  Professor  Nash  retired,  he 
became  principal. 

In  many  respects,  Harper  Johnson  represented  a  mentality 
that  was  beginning  to  come  of  age,  a  new  consciousness  of  hu- 
man dignity  that  was  arising  among  black  persons  across  the  South. 
Until  integration  occurred  in  the  mid-1960s,  Johnson  was  an  un- 
compromising voice  calling  for  equality  and  justice.  His  students 
must  have  new  textbooks  and  new  desks,  just  like  the  white  stu- 
dents. He  was  a  reasonable  man  who  desired  to  bring  about  in- 
tegration in  a  way  that  would  insure  a  common  foundation  on 
which  to  build  after  the  dramatic  changes  that  would  have  to 
occur  had  taken  place.  Johnson  became  to  his  generation  of  stu- 
dents, as  Nash  had  been  to  the  preceding  one,  the  model  who 
would  challenge  young  blacks  to  strive  for  only  the  highest  that 
their  lives  could  attain.  He  was  in  every  way  an  uncommon  man 
for  an  uncommon  time,  and  the  respect  that  was  necessary  for 
integration  to  work  beyond  just  the  surface  changes  that  the  law 
demanded  was  generated  by  his  decisiveness  and  leadership. 

Johnson  moved  to  Nashville  in  the  late  1960s  where  he  worked 
for  the  Tennessee  Education  Association.  To  honor  him,  the  TEA 
began  to  give  the  E.  Harper  Johnson  Human  Relations  Award. 
Significantly,  two  of  these  awards  have  been  presented  to  McMinn 
Countians — the  first,  to  Professor  Nash,  and  the  second  to  J.  Neal 
Ensminger,  the  executive  editor  of  The  Daily  Post- Athenian.  Har- 
per Johnson's  influence  on  every  aspect  of  life  in  the  county  is 
high.  He  will  always  be  considered  one  of  the  "shapers"  of  the 
county's  destiny.  He  died  in  1982. 

Professor  Nash  concluded  his  reminiscences  by  giving  atten- 
tion to  his  thoughts  for  the  future  of  the  black  community  of  the 
county.  He  was  quick  with  a  response  that  was  undoubtedly  al- 
ready well-formed  in  his  mind:  "If  the  young  people  can  con- 


82  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

tinuc  to  have  ambition  and  some  goal,  and  do  not  begin  to  have 
an  inferiority  complex,  the  future  will  be  bright."  One  wonders 
if  these  sentiments  might  not  apply  to  the  entire  county  as  it  moves 
into  a  future  where  its  special  uniqueness  competes  with  a  much 
larger  and  much  more  complex  "global  village."  To  touch  base 
with  some  old  sources  of  wisdom  is  both  refreshing  and  hopeful. 

Religion 

A  general  overview  of  American  religious  history  can  be  given 
quickly.  Following  the  Revolutionary  War  and  the  expansion  be- 
yond the  Appalachians,  religion  moved  immediately  to  the  new 
frontier.  With  this  movement,  the  character  of  religion  in  Amer- 
ica underwent  a  drastic  change.  Instead  of  the  staid,  intellectual 
approach  that  had  characterized  religion  on  the  eastern  sea- 
board, the  religion  of  the  new  frontier  was  charged  with  the  same 
highly  emotional  spirit  that  paralleled  the  adventuresome  pi- 
oneer mentality  and  the  daring  that  transformed  the  old  wil- 
derness areas.  By  1800  a  revivalist  movement  was  in  full  swing. 
Through  two  "Great  Awakenings"  and  across  the  better  part  of 
two  centuries,  in  many  respects,  the  county's  religious  prefer- 
ences have  changed  very  little. 

McMinn  County  was  in  the  heart  of  the  revival  movement. 
Throughout  the  early  period  the  county  was  a  central  place  for 
the  first  camp  meetings  and  "brush  arbors"  in  southeastern  Ten- 
nessee that  gave  the  great  revivals,  and  flaming  tongued  orators 
who  stood  in  their  midst,  their  memorable  flavor. 

The  first  denomination  to  come  to  the  frontier  were  the  Pres- 
byterians. They  were  the  strongest  group  on  the  seaboard  and 
worked  from  a  well-established  organization.  However,  there  were 
immediate  problems.  The  Presbyterians  believed  in  Calvinist 
doctrines  of  predestination  and  placed  little  or  no  emphasis  on 
the  free  will  of  the  human  being.  But  the  frontier  character  had 
been  forged  in  the  caldron  of  human  will,  leading  to  a  conflict 
too  great  for  the  old  traditions  to  bear.  A  major  split  within  the 
denomination  produced  the  "Cumberland  Presbyterians"  who 


McMINN  83 

softened  the  old  Calvinism.  This  new  group  grew  significantly 
and  was  well-represented  in  the  county. 

The  Baptist  movement  into  the  area  followed  on  the  heels 
of  the  first  revival  activities.  The  Baptists  succeeded  quickly  and 
got  off  to  a  much  better  start  than  the  Presbyterians  for  at  least 
three  reasons.  First,  they  were  not  bound  by  old  traditions,  and 
second,  they  had  a  theology  that  stressed  free  will.  Finally,  they 
had  ministers  who  were  close  to  the  people,  typically  being  lay 
persons  who  felt  "called  to  preach"  and  performed  ministerial 
activities  in  addition  to  their  regular  work. 

Unfortunately,  the  Baptists  soon  became  hamstrung  on  the- 
ological issues.  Early  in  the  1800s,  the  "Landmarkism"  contro- 
versy erupted  over  the  belief  that  certain  biblical  "landmarks" 
were  being  compromised  by  theological  liberals.  Then,  in  the 
late  1840s,  disagreement  over  the  slavery  question  fostered  a  split 
that  divided  the  Baptist  faith  in  the  United  States  into  the  South- 
ern and  American  Baptist  Conventions.  Since  that  time  all  Bap- 
tist congregations  in  the  county,  with  the  exception  of  random 
"independent"  Baptist  groups  which  have  appeared  from  time 
to  time,  have  belonged  to  the  Southern  Baptist  Convention. 

The  most  successful  early  religious  activitites  were  Method- 
ist. The  "circuit  riders"  were  trained  in  the  scriptures,  well-dis- 
ciplined as  a  group,  and  unbelievably  energetic  in  covering  the 
wide  countryside.  The  Methodists,  having  established  struc- 
tured conferences  to  provide  direction  and  supervision,  were 
also  well-organized. 

It  was  not  until  the  Civil  War  period  that  divisions  led  to  the 
organization  of  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church,  South.  Every 
one  of  the  Holston  Conference  ministers  agreed  with  the  "Plan 
of  Separation,"  and  thus  any  divisions  were  held  at  a  minimum. 
Many  of  the  political  and  social  leaders  of  the  eastern  part  of  the 
state,  like  "Parson"  Brownlow,  were  Methodist.  The  divisions 
elsewhere  which  created  groups  like  the  Republican  Methodist 
Church,  the  Wesleyan  Connection,  and  the  Methodist  Protestant 
Church  were  of  little  consequence  in  McMinn  County. 

Although  the  real  strength  of  Methodism  may  be  in  the 
northern  part  of  the  Holston  Conference  between  Knoxville  and 


84  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

southwestern  Virginia,  the  impact  on  McMinn  County  has  been 
immense.  This  has  been  especially  true  because  of  the  presence 
of  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College  and  Hiwassee  College  in  nearby 
Madison ville.  Families  of  every  denomination  have  been  touched 
bv  these  schools,  and  their  graduates  have  typically  become  the 
leading  citizens  of  the  communities  in  the  area. 

Limitations  of  time  and  space  preclude  lengthy  accounts  of 
the  churches  in  the  county.  All  are  distinctive  and  became  the 
focal  points  of  town  and  country  life.  What  will  be  given  here  is, 
at  best,  a  representative  sketch  of  some  of  the  earliest  churches 
which  have  continuous  histories  into  the  present. 

The  first  religious  experiences  in  the  county  were  the  old 
camp  meetings  which  grew  out  of  the  great  revivals.  The  most 
important  of  these  were  located  at  Cedar  Springs,  Spring  Creek, 
and  South  Liberty.  People  came  from  great  distances  and  spent 
a  few  days  or  weeks  studying  and  worshipping — and  socializ- 
ing— in  the  highly  spiritualized  atmosphere  of  the  camps. 

The  first  church  to  be  organized  in  the  county  was  the  Cal- 
houn Methodist  Church  in  1819.  It  was  also  the  first  church  in 
the  Cleveland  District  of  the  Holston  Conference.  The  old  church 
building  stood  as  a  historical  landmark  until  the  late  1960s.  Its 
remaining  graveyard  is,  beyond  doubt,  the  most  intriguing  in 
the  county.  An  early  attempt  to  establish  a  Presbyterian  Church 
at  Calhoun  was  short-lived  in  spite  of  the  assistance  of  Governor 
Joseph  McMinn.  A  Baptist  Church  was  established  in  1874. 

There  is  some  debate  as  to  which  was  the  next  church  to  be 
organized.  More  than  likely  that  honor  belongs  to  what  was  called 
"The  Baptist  Church  of  Christ  at  BigSprings  on  the  Little  Mouse 
Creek."  This  was  in  1822,  and  like  most  of  the  churches  in  the 
county,  it  was  organized  in  a  home — that  of  Elijah  Hurst.  One 
of  the  charter  members  was  Jacob  Womac,  a  leader  of  the  Wa- 
tauga Association,  the  political  ancestor  of  the  state  of  Tennes- 
see. Another  charter  member  was  Isaac  Lane,  who  had  fought 
at  King's  Mountain  and  brought  a  large  family  to  live  in  the  Mouse 
Creek  area.  This  church  was  closed  about  the  time  of  the  Civil 
War.  In  1885  some  former  members  established  the  Mouse  Creek 


McMINN 


85 


Mars  Hill  Presby- 
terian Church  in 
Athens 


Baptist  Church.  Eventually,  the  name  was  changed  to  the  First 
Baptist  Church  of  Niota. 

The  Zion  Hill  Baptist  Church  was  also  organized  in  1822. 
Although  it  is  a  small  rural  church  today,  in  that  period  it  was  of 
great  importance.  Many  churches  in  the  county  grew  out  of  Zion 
Hill,  not  the  least  of  which  was  First  Baptist  in  Athens.  Several 
of  the  most  important  Baptist  ministers  in  the  county's  early  his- 
tory were  associated  with  Zion  Hill  and  its  parent  church,  Ches- 
tua  Baptist  in  Monroe  County,  including  Daniel  Buckner  who 
was  named  for  his  fathers  close  friend  Daniel  Boone,  Thomas 
and  James  Russell,  and  J.  P.  Kefauver,  grandfather  of  Estes 
Kefauver. 

The  oldest  church  in  Athens  is  the  Mars  Hill  Presbyterian 
Church,  which  was  organized  in  1823.  Among  the  first  members 
were  the  Andersons,  Breazeales,  Bridges,  Dixsons,  Gettys,  Jack- 
sons,  Keys,  McKeldins,  Neils,  Popes,  Reids,  and  Wilsons.  During 
the  Civil  War  the  church  separated  from  the  Northern  Presby- 
tery and  even  allowed  its  minister  to  serve  the  Southern  cause 
as  a  chaplain.  The  structure  itself,  originally  built  by  the  Cleages, 
has  been  rebuilt,  remodeled,  and  survived  fire  to  become  one  of 
the  most  beautiful  buildings  in  the  county. 

In  1824  the  First  Baptist  Church  was  formed.  Its  original 
building  was  a  log  structure  made  available  by  a  local  physician 
and  located  on  the  site  of  the  present  Cedar  Grove  Cemetery. 


86  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

In  1889  the  congregation  erected  a  new  building  near  the  right 
front  of  the  present  structure.  In  1941  Charles  Stephen  Bond 
led  in  a  building  project  at  the  present  site,  where  the  home  of 
R.  J.  Fisher  had  been  located.  Under  the  leadership  of  R.  Rich- 
ard Smith,  the  present  sanctuary  was  completed  in  1967.  For 
many  years  this  has  been  the  largest  church  in  the  county.  The 
First  Baptist  Church  established  three  missions  that  later  became 
important  churches  in  their  own  right:  East  Athens  Baptist  Church 
in  the  Morningside  community,  West  End  Baptist  Church  in  the 
Layman  Hill  area,  and  Central  Baptist  Church  in  the  Avalon 
Heights  section. 

In  1825  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church  was  established  on 
property  across  Washington  Avenue  from  the  present  site  of 
Foree  Clinic;  the  designation  "South"  was  added  on  the  eve 
of  the  Civil  War.  In  1829  Brownlow  was  the  minister.  A  second 
building  was  in  use  from  1851  until  1878,  when  one  of  the  most 
beautiful  churches  in  the  region  was  built.  On  Christmas  night, 
1947,  one  of  the  most  spectacular  fires  in  the  city's  history  com- 
pletely destroyed  this  building,  which  had  been  named  "Keith 
Memorial"  in  1939.  The  congregation  met  in  the  local  high 
school  for  two  years,  constructed  the  present  building,  and  has 
enjoyed  steady  growth  ever  since. 

St.  Paul's  Episcopal  Church  began  services  in  1834.  The  graceful 
lines  of  the  present  building  on  South  Jackson  Street  serve  as  a 
fitting  tribute  to  the  devotion  of  the  typically  small  congregations 
that  have  kept  the  Episcopalian  faith  alive  in  the  county. 

The  present  Trinity  Methodist  Church,  whose  members  held 
primarily  Northern  sympathies,  was  not  formed  until  after  the 
Civil  War  in  1865.  Originally  named  the  First  Methodist  Epis- 
copal Church,  and  after  worshipping  at  several  locations,  the 
growing  congregation  entered  the  present  structure  in  1910;  the 
site  had  been  the  well-known  Foster's  Livery  Stable.  The  church 
has  been  closely  associated  with  the  life  of  Tennessee  Wesleyan 
College  over  the  years.  A  building  on  campus  memorializes  two 
of  its  ministers,  John  Petty  and  John  Manker.  The  most  famous 
minister  was  Nathaniel  Green  Taylor,  who  served  at  one  time 


McMINN  87 

in  the  United  States  House  of  Representatives.  His  two  sons, 
Robert  Love  and  Alfred  A.,  became  governors  of  the  state. 

The  Taylor  story  is  one  of  the  most  famous  in  Tennessee  his- 
tory. Bob  was  a  Democrat  and  Alfa  Republican.  Since  they  were 
"roses  from  the  same  garden, "their  campaign  came  to  be  known, 
with  reference  to  the  old  feud  between  the  houses  of  York  and 
Lancaster,  as  "The  War  of  the  Roses."  The  mens  humor,  skilled 
oratory,  and  musical  ability  turned  out  campaign  crowds  num- 
bering in  the  tens  of  thousands.  Bobs  campaign  song  was  "Dixie" 
and  Alf's  "Yankee  Doodle."  Bob  won  by  a  narrow  majority,  even- 
tually served  three  terms,  and  went  on  to  be  a  senator  and  a 
representative.  Alf  then  served  one  term  as  governor,  and  three 
as  congressman.  Before  their  deaths,  they  toured  the  nation  ap- 
pearing before  large  audiences  as  "Yankee  Doodle  and  Dixie." 

In  1872,  as  part  of  the  Brient  development  northeast  of  Ath- 
ens, a  church  was  established  at  Happy  Top.  With  most  of  the 
enterprises  of  that  community,  it  moved  to  Tellico  Junction  in 
1893,  and  was  known  until  1909  as  the  Cross  Grove  Baptist  Church. 
At  that  time  the  name  of  the  community  was  changed  to  Engle- 
wood,  and  the  church  became  the  First  Baptist  Church.  The 
Methodist  Church  in  Englewood  was  organized  in  1902.  One 
name  prominent  at  this  time,  which  appears  time  and  again  in 
the  early  organizational  activities  of  many  churches  in  the  county, 
is  that  of  J.  R.  Land. 

The  First  United  Presbyterian  Church,  U.S.A.,  which  stands 
on  North  Jackson  Street,  across  from  the  Tennessee  Wesleyan 
campus,  was  erected  in  1892.  The  old  church  and  manse  next 
door  stand  much  as  they  did  in  1902.  The  church  had  been  es- 
tablished in  1889  by  a  local  man  who  had  returned  to  Athens 
after  receiving  an  excellent  education.  J.  L.  ("Jake")  Cook— with 
the  exception  of  W  E.  Nash  and  Harper  Johnson — is  the  best- 
known  and  most  influential  black  person  in  the  county's  history. 
The  present  pastor,  Charles  Johnson,  who  has  held  this  position 
since  1966,  is  the  longest  standing  member  of  the  present  clergy 
in  the  county  and  is  a  prominent  black  leader. 

Cook's  parents  had  been  slaves  of  one  of  the  earliest  settlers, 
Judge  J.  B.  Cooke,  but  died  when  Jake  was  a  young  child.  He 


88  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

was  raised  bv  "Uncle  Nelse"  and  "Aunt  Huldy"  Gettys  who  had 
been  slaves  for  the  Gettys  family.  He  was  an  avid  student,  and 
from  the  public  schools  he  went  on  to  Fisk  University  and  then 
Knoxville  College  where  he  graduated  in  1888.  He  then  grad- 
uated from  Alleghany  Theological  Seminary  in  Pennsylvania, 
and  returned  in  1891  to  establish  the  "Academy  of  Athens. "This 
school  quickly  gained  recognition  as  one  of  the  best  black  schools 
in  the  South. 

Cook  was  the  only  black  at  the  national  convention  of  the 
Presbyterian  Church  in  Omaha  in  1898.  His  talk  was  described 
in  a  publication  of  that  day,  The  Christian  Instructor,  as  "the  bright- 
est and  most  popular  address  delivered  before  the  Assem- 
bly.... Mr  Cook  is  the  best  possible  object  lesson  of  the  value  of 
the  work  being  done  by  the  Board  of  Missions  to  the  Freedmen." 

Cook  continued  in  Athens  as  head  of  the  academy  and  min- 
ister of  the  church  until  1900  when  he  became  president  of  Hen- 
derson Institute  in  Henderson,  North  Carolina.  Through  the 
mid-sixties  Cook  High  School  commemorated  this  teacher. 

Most  of  the  churches  in  Etowah  started  about  the  same  time 
that  the  town  was  established  in  1906.  There  had  been  churches 
in  the  surrounding  area,  and  the  old  Cane  Creek  campground 
operated  by  the  Methodists  was  nearby.  There  was  a  great  deal 
of  competition  among  young  suitors  at  Foster  s  Livery  Stable  for 
buggies  and  teams  to  drive  to  the  camp  meetings.  Near  the  area 
that  became  Etowah  was  Crittenden  Fork  Baptist  Church,  later 
called  Goodsprings.  It  was  organized  in  1872  and  has  always  been 
one  of  the  strongest  rural  churches  in  the  county.  The  Coghill 
Baptist  Church  was  organized  even  earlier,  in  1860,  south  of  the 
Etowah  area  near  the  present  Polk  County  line.  The  first  min- 
ister, E.  C.  Denton,  served  the  church  for  25  years.  The  church 
was  one  of  the  first  before  1900  to  begin  the  process  of  "mission" 
efforts  to  start  new  churches  by  organizing  the  Wetmore  Baptist 
Church  at  Wetmore  Station. 

The  Wesleyanna  Methodist  Church  was  organized  in  1861. 
In  its  long  history,  the  church  has  been  served  by  over  70  min- 
isters, 38  of  whom  have  gone  on  to  become  bishops. 


McMINN 


89 


LlVEfi/  -STABLE. 


The  Foster  Livery  Stable  about  1910, 
now  stands 


here  Trinity  Methodist  Church 


The  oldest  congregation  in  Etowah  is  the  present  Wesley 
Memorial  Methodist  Church.  It  was  formerly  the  Tenth  Street 
Methodist  Church,  and  before  that  the  Methodist  Episcopal 
Church,  South.  It  was  instituted  in  1906  and  was  the  only  church 
building  in  Etowah  for  over  a  year;  many  of  the  other  congre- 
gations in  town  met  in  this  building  or  at  the  old  "Blue  Front" 
on  Tennessee  Avenue. 

Three  of  the  main  churches  in  Etowah  today  started  in  1907- 
1908,  and  each  met  for  some  time  at  the  "Blue  Front." The  First 
Baptist  Church  showed  the  largest  growth,  and  by  1919  had  one 
of  the  largest  Sunday  schools  in  all  of  East  Tennessee.  Among 
the  charter  members  were  names  that  come  down  to  the  pres- 
ent— Cantrell,  Creasman,  Riggs,  Roylston,  Tillery,  and  Williams. 
W  H.  Runion  was  the  first  minister,  and  for  several  years  there 
was  a  series  of  building  projects.  Under  the  11-year  pastorate  of 
Dr.  A.  F.  Mahan  the  church  membership  grew  to  over  1000.  In 
later  years,  E.  M.  Holt  led  the  church  to  great  success,  and  today 


90  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

the  newly  constructed  sanctuary  is  one  of  the  most  beautiful  in 
the  county. 

St.  Pauls  was  the  third  Methodist  Church  to  be  formed  in 
Etowah.  For  19  years  the  members  worshipped  on  Pennsylvania 
Avenue.  J.  W.  May  was  the  first  minister,  and  among  the  early 
members  were  M.  L.  Bryan,  D.  H.  Day,  Charlie  Hutsell,  John 
Reed,  and  Oran  Reed.  In  1926  the  congregation  moved  to  the 
Georgia  Avenue  and  Eighth  Street  site.  Mars  Hill  Methodist 
Church  (built  on  a  hill  property  owned  by  Benny  Mars)  was 
organized  in  1906. 

The  First  Presbyterian  Church  was  organized  in  June  1908. 
The  charter  members  were  J.  A.  Fowler,  Mrs.  Horace  Green, 
P.  A.  Kinser,  G.  D.  Pate,  Mrs.  D.  M.  Pearson,  W.  C.  Reynolds, 
and  Charles  Wagner. 

Important  information  remains  that  could  fill  many  vol- 
umes, but  space  limitations  here  are  severe.  Men  such  as  Dillard 
Brown  and  Henry  Stamey  came  out  of  Clearwater  Baptist  to  be- 
come well-known  leaders.  Women  such  as  Gussie  Rose  List  lov- 
ingly taught  a  whole  generation  of  Athenians  to  sing,  and  Mrs. 
Ruth  Sharps  Sunday  school  class  grew  into  Allen  Memorial 
Methodist  Church.  Mount  Harmony  Baptist  Church  in  1947  was 
acknowledged  as  the  most  outstanding  rural  church  in  the  state. 
Jesse  Dodson  had  a  long  and  influential  pastorate  at  Eastanallee 
Baptist.  Liberty  Hill  Church  of  Christ  was  used  during  the  Civil 
War  as  a  "pest  house"  for  soldiers  with  contagious  diseases. 
Churches  have  a  place  of  honor  in  the  county's  history. 

Education 

Education  has  always  been  a  central  concern  in  the  county. 
The  first  educational  institutions  were  mission  schools  for  the 
Indians  which  were  provided  by  various  religious  organizations 
with  the  ostensive  purpose  of  education,  but  perhaps  primarily 
concerned  with  evangelism.  The  Indians  did  not  particularly  care 
for  the  religion  of  the  whites,  but  they  appreciated  educational 
opportunity  sometimes  even  more  than  the  majority  of  the  first 
pioneers  who  gave  priority  to  the  children  helping  with  the  work 


McMINN  91 

in  the  new  settlement.  The  mission  to  the  Cherokees  enjoyed 
great  success  until  the  time  of  the  removal. 

The  Methodists  established  a  school  called  "The  Conasauga 
Mission,"  while  a  Presbyterian  group  operating  from  Maryville 
under  a  pioneer  missionary  named  Gideon  Blackburn  started  a 
school  at  Walker's  Ferry.  Return  Meigs,  the  capable  Indian  agent 
for  the  area,  did  a  great  deal  to  advance  education  among  those 
under  his  charge,  and  in  later  years  served  on  the  board  of  trust- 
ees for  Forest  Hill  Academy. 

Frontier  children  learned  the  "three  Rs"at  their  mothers' knees. 
As  the  settlers  prospered  the  more  affluent  employed  young  men 
with  college  backgrounds  to  tutor  their  children;  educated  min- 
isters also  served  as  teachers.  Frequently  the  children  of  less 
fortunate  neighbors  were  invited  to  join  the  educational  activ- 
ities. As  early  as  1805,  for  example,  there  are  records  of  George 
Barber  Davis  who  taught  for  the  John  Rogers' family  at  Rogers' 
Creek.  Davis  later  moved  to  the  mission  school  at  Walker's  Ferry. 

Beginning  about  1823  at  least  two  specific  types  of  educa- 
tional institutions  appeared  in  the  county.  First,  there  were  pri- 
vate schools  called  "academies."  Then,  to  a  lesser  extent,  there 
were  the  first  instances  of  public,  or  "free,"  education.  In  addi- 
tion, itinerant  teachers  travelled  the  countryside  establishing 
"schools"  in  private  dwellings  or  renting  space  for  various  lengths 
of  time  from  a  few  weeks  to  several  months. 

The  "academies"  were  an  intriguing  educational  enterprise. 
They  were  typically  secondary  schools,  but  might  also  cover 
everything  from  primary  level  work  to  seminary  training.  Hi- 
wassee  Academy  in  Calhoun  was  the  first  in  the  county.  It  opened 
around  1823.  Later,  it  was  known  as  Hiwassee  Masonic  Institu- 
tion and,  by  as  late  as  1874,  had  nearly  100  students. 

In  Athens,  the  Forest  Hill  Academy  was  established  in  1825, 
and  it  has  only  been  in  the  most  recent  years,  with  the  establish- 
ment of  Westside  Elementary  School,  that  the  name  Forest  Hill  has 
not  been  associated  with  education  in  the  county.  The  large  Cane 
Creek  Academy  or  Seminary  kept  alive  the  memories  of  the  old 
Cane  Creek  Methodist  Campground  until  the  middle  1800s. 


92 

¥ 


Tennessee  County  History  Series 


The  Forest  Hill  Academy  in  1907 

In  1857  three  important  academies  were  established.  In  Rice- 
ville,  John  Biggs  and  Mollie  Porter  opened  the  Riceville  Acad- 
emy. Ten  years  later  the  school  was  rechartered  as  the  Riceville 
Scientific  and  Classical  Institute.  Dr.  N.  B.  Goforth  led  the  school 
to  excellence.  He  established  monthly  public  oral  examinations, 
and  large  crowds  would  gather  to  hear  the  students  (often  termed 
"scholars"  in  the  old  records)  perform.  Dr.  Goforth  left  Riceville 
around  1877  to  go  to  Mossy  Creek — present-day  Jefferson  City — 
to  help  establish  Newman  Female  College  and  to  marry  the 
daughter  of  its  founder.  This  school  later  became  Carson-New- 
man College. 

Two  other  academies  were  started  this  same  year  in  Mouse 
Creek  (Niota).  Because  of  a  conflict  over  location,  one  came  to 
be  known  as  Mouse  Creek  Male  and  Female  Academy,  and  the 
other  as  Fountain  Hill  Academy.  By  1881  A.  W.  Weeks  had  es- 
tablished Mount  Harmony  Select  School  for  Males  and  Females 
three  miles  outside  of  Mouse  Creek.  An  advertisement  from  that 
time  emphasized  the  importance  of  the  location  "in  the  beautiful 
and  healthy  valley  of  the  Eastanallee,  in  a  community  where  the 
people  have  long  been  distinguished  for  their  generosity,  strict 
morality,  and  harmonious  workings  for  the  advancement  of  ed- 
ucation and  refinement." The  following  "terms"  were  set  forth: 


I2L3TJ 


McMINN 

V* 


93 


Mouse  Creek  Academy  in  the  late  nineteenth  century.  Note  the  fly  on 
the  upper  right  corner  of  the  glass  plate  negative. 

FIRST  CLASS — To  include  Orthography,  Reading, 

Writing,  Primary  Arithmetic  $5.00 

SECOND  CLASS — To  include  English  Grammar, 

Geography,  First  Lessons  in  Composition  and 

Practical  Arithmetic  $7.50 


94  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

THIRD  CLASS— To  include  Natural  Philosophy, 
U.S.  History,  Anatomy,  and  Elementary  Algebra  $8.75 

FOURTH  CLASS— Mental  Philosophy,  Common  School 
Astronomy,  Higher  Arithmetic,  Higher  Algebra  $10.00 

FIFTH  CLASS — Rhetoric  and  Composition,  Chemistry, 
Geometry,  Trigonometry,  Conic  Sections,  Analytic  Geometry 
and  Mathematical  Astronomy  $15.00 

CONTINGENT  FEE— 25Cts.  to  be  paid  by  each  student 
on  entering  school. 

Students  will  be  charged  from  the  time  they  enter  school  to  the 
close  of  the  term.  Deductions  made  only  in  case  of  protracted  sick- 
ness. Board,  including  lights,  can  be  had  in  good  families  at  cheap 
rates.  Students  wishing  to  board  themselves  can  obtains  rooms  and 
fuel  for  a  trifle. 

The  names  of  the  trustees  indicate  family  ties  that  have  been 
important  across  the  years:  J.  N.  Cate,  W.  H.  Forrest,  D.  P.  Isbell, 
James  Lewis  (chairman),  J.  D.  Lowry,  Jr.,  J.  P.  Netherland,  E.  M. 
Stalcup,  and  W.  P.  Willson. 

Elementary  or  primary  education  began  in  an  organized 
manner  in  1823.  Under  Presbyterian  guidance,  a  log  building 
was  erected  in  the  present  Cedar  Grove  Cemetery  and  was  known 
as  Cedar  Grove  School.  Other  schools  at  this  early  time  were  the 
Glover  School,  where  McMinn  Dodson  taught,  the  Gum  Hill 
School,  and  the  Eastanallee  School.  Drawing  from  an  old  record, 
Ozelle  Powers  vividly  describes  the  latter: 

The  school  was  built  on  a  section  of  land  that  had  been  worn  out 
and  no  longer  used  for  farming.  The  building  was  made  of  logs 
and  had  a  rough  pine  floor  of  split  logs.  It  had  two  doors,  one  on 
each  side,  and  had  four  windows,  one  on  each  side  of  the  doors. 
The  building  was  approximatley  twenty  feet  by  twenty  feet.  At  one 
end  of  the  building  was  a  rock  fire  place  which  was  used  for  heat- 
ing. The  children  had  split  logs  for  seats.  The  children  studied 
aloud,  and  the  teacher  believed  in  the  hickory  stick.  The  length  of 
the  school  term  was  about  six  weeks  and  during  this  time  the  chil- 
dren went  to  school  from  sun-up  to  sun-down. 

The  first  public  schools  were  not  adequately  financed,  and 
sometimes  were  referred  to  as  "pauper  schools. "Even  though  an 


McMINN  95 

act  was  passed  by  the  state  legislature  in  1873  to  establish  a  public 
school  system,  a  local  option  school  tax  was  defeated.  In  1874 
there  were  66  schools  and  73  teachers  in  the  county.  They  taught 
approximately  three  months  out  of  the  year,  and  were  paid  $30.00 
per  month. 

The  public  school  situation  had  deteriorated  to  such  an  ex- 
tent by  1878  that  they  appeared  to  be  on  the  brink  of  extinction. 
Superintendent  C.  R.  Hoyl,  in  a  report  to  the  state  superintend- 
ent, begged  for  help:  "Oh,  God!  for  Christ's  sake  forbid  it,  I  would 
humbly  pray  thee,  in  His  name,  Amen!" 

There  was  also  keen  competition  between  the  public  and  pri- 
vate schools.  Lydia  Bridges  had  the  most  prestigious  private  school 
in  the  area.  It  met  in  the  basement  of  the  Bridges' Hotel  and  was 
supported  by  the  leading  families  of  the  community.  Her  stu- 
dents were  derided  as  "Cellar  Bugs"by  the  public  school  students 
who  were,  in  turn,  called  "Gully  Bugs"  because  of  the  location  of 
their  school  near  the  large  gully  which  ran  near  the  north  side 
of  the  school  and  along  the  south  side  of  the  town  square. 

When  Athens  was  incorporated  in  1903  taxes  could  be  levied 
and  a  city  school  system  established.  For  the  first  six  years  the 
old  Forest  Hill  Academy  was  used.  Then  in  1909  the  present 
Forest  Hill  building,  much  of  which  has  now  been  torn  down, 
was  constructed.  Later,  a  school  as  added  in  North  Athens,  and 
after  World  War  II  schools  were  added  in  the  Ingleside  and  City 
Park  sections  of  the  expanding  town.  Men  like  Bob  Benton, 
George  Galloway,  and  Harold  Powers  will  remain  important  in 
the  history  of  elementary  education  in  the  area.  W  F.  Whitaker 
was  the  superintendent  during  the  period  of  greatest  growth. 

Up  until  the  early  part  of  the  twentieth  century  there  was 
little  or  no  emphasis  placed  on  educating  the  black  population. 
A  few  attempts  made  by  white  teachers  from  the  North  were  met 
by  strong  resistance.  At  least  four  black  schools  were  burned.  In 
1926  the  county,  with  the  help  from  the  city  and  the  Rosenwald 
Foundation,  established  a  comprehensive  black  school  called  the 
Athens  Training  School.  It  was  later  renamed  Cook  High  School 
in  honor  of  J.  L.  Cook  and,  with  other  black  schools  in  the  Eto- 
wah area,  operated  until  the  desegregation  period  of  the  mid- 


96  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

1960s.  The  Cook  school  was  an  outgrowth  of  the  "Academy  of 
Athens"  mentioned  earlier  which  had  been  located  at  the  top  of 
Depot  Hill  on  the  Wilson  property  next  to  Laycock  Funeral  Home. 

In  1891  a  secondary  school  law  was  passed.  Two  years  later, 
the  county  purchased  the  property  of  the  old  Athens  Female 
College  from  Dr.  L.  L.  H.  Carlock  for  $2500.  On  April  20,  1893, 
McMinn  County  High  School  was  opened  as  the  first  public  sec- 
ondary school  in  East  Tennessee  and  the  second  in  the  entire 
state.  The  first  principal  was  M.  R.  M.  Burke.  In  recent  years, 
the  work  of  B.  L.  Hale  and  J.  Will  Foster  has  been  most  noteworthy. 

High  schools  slowly  became  established  in  the  other  large 
communities,  such  as  the  one  housed  for  a  time  in  the  Carnegie 
Library  in  Etowah.  These  were  smaller,  but  built  up  records  of 
proud  accomplishment.  After  a  series  of  consolidations  since  the 
mid-1960s  there  are  now  only  two  high  schools,  McMinn  High 
in  its  new  structure  on  Congress  Parkway  in  Athens,  and  McMinn 
Central  between  Etowah  and  Englewood  on  Highway  411. 

The  story  of  education  in  McMinn  County  is  incomplete 
without  a  sketch  of  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College.  Before  1850  a 
private  academy  had  existed  at  the  present  site  of  the  college, 
but  it  had  burned.  The  Odd  Fellows  Lodge,  whose  members 
helped  to  start  several  colleges  in  Virginia  and  Tennessee,  ob- 
tained a  charter  to  build  a  college  on  the  site  and  started  the 
construction  of  the  building  known  today  as  "Old  College,"  which 
stands  at  the  heart  of  the  campus.  Financial  problems  resulted 
in  the  Odd  Fellows  proposing  a  joint  undertaking  with  the 
Methodist  Church. 

The  name  Athens  Female  College  was  chosen  in  1857,  and 
by  the  time  of  the  Civil  War  it  was  a  thriving  institution.  A  news- 
paper advertisement  in  1863  read:  "The  larger  and  better  por- 
tion of  the  young  men  of  the  country  are  in  the  army,  fighting 
the  battles  of  freedom  and  independence.  And  whatever  else 
you  leave  undone,  don't  neglect  to  educate  your  daughters." 

However,  financial  problems,  which  have  almost  always 
plagued  the  college,  arose  again,  and  additional  changes  within 
the  Methodist  organization  altered  the  character  of  the  college. 
The  Holston  Conference  of  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church — 


McMINN  97 

the  group  with  Union  loyalties — was  reorganized  in  1865  at 
Athens.  The  female  college  owed  a  large  sum  to  its  president,  Dr. 
Erastus  Rowley,  and  he  claimed  ownership  of  the  college  against 
those  debts.  He  immediately  sold  it  to  the  newly  reorganized 
conference,  and  in  1867  it  became  known  as  East  Tennessee 
Wesleyan  College.  A  year  later  it  became  coeducational  and 
was  renamed  East  Tennessee  Wesleyan  University. 

In  1884  Dr.  John  Fletcher  Spence  became  president  and  com- 
menced a  26-year  administration.  During  this  period  the  names 
Grant  Memorial  University  and  then  U.S.  Grant  University  were 
used.  Under  this  name  it  consolidated  with  the  University  of 
Chattanooga  and  was  usually  referred  to  simply  as  "The  Athens 
School."  This  consolidation  continued  until  1925  under  the 
administration  of  a  variety  of  Chattanooga-based  presidents  and 
deans,  the  most  important  of  whom  was  Arlo  Ayres  Brown  who 
went  on  to  be  president  of  Drew  University  and  a  leading  voice 
in  American  education  in  the  hrst  half  of  the  twentieth  century. 

Perhaps  the  most  important  person  in  the  colleges  history 
came  on  the  scene  in  1918,  when  James  L.  Robb  began  to  ad- 
minister the  Athens  campus.  In  1925,  when  the  separation  of 
the  two  schools  occurred,  Robb  became  president,  and  the  school 
was  named  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College. 

Robb's  tenure  lasted  until  1950,  and  he  led  the  college  through 
a  period  of  great  financial  problems,  the  Depression,  and  two 
major  wars.  In  spite  of  all  this,  the  college  grew  both  in  facilities 
and  student  population.  Robb's  relationship  to  the  Pfeiffer  fam- 
ily of  New  York  City  resulted  in  major  contributions  that  built  a 
library,  a  girls'  dormitory,  and  a  gymnasium,  the  latter  bearing 
Robb's  name.  Throughout  Robb's  administration,  the  college 
operated  as  a  two-year  junior  college. 

During  the  administrations  of  Leroy  Martin  and  Ralph 
Mohney,  the  college  experienced  continued  growth  having 
become  a  four-year  institution  in  1955.  By  the  end  of  Mohney's 
term,  the  college  budget  was  well  over  a  million  dollars,  and 
the  enrollment  had  increased  to  over  seven  hundred  stu- 
dents. In  1967  the  college  granted  100  degrees  and  added 
several  new  faculty. 


98  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

Like  other  small  denominational  schools,  however,  the  col- 
lege fell  on  very  difficult  times  in  the  early  1970s.  It  was  feared 
that  the  doors  might  even  be  closed.  Enrollments  at  private  schools 
sharply  declined  across  the  country;  at  Tennessee  Wesleyan  it 
declined  by  nearly  two-thirds.  Thanks  to  efforts  of  alumni,  friends, 
the  community  in  general,  and  the  able  efforts  of  President  George 
Naff,  the  college  has  survived  and  the  immediate  future  looks 
strong. 

The  story  of  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College  has  been  a  story  of 
continued  perseverance  and  adaptation.  It  has  faced  difficult  times 
again  and  again  but  always  had  the  strength  of  character  to  find 
new  avenues  of  service  in  the  light  of  changing  demands.  At  times 
the  college  has  seemed  like  a  "community  within  a  community," 
and  its  initial  Union  sympathies  may  have  put  it  at  odds  with 
many  in  the  larger  community.  The  college  seems  to  be  accepted 
more  and  more  as  a  community  resource,  however,  and  a  distinct 
asset  in  which  the  town  can  take  great  pride.  To  the  extent  that 
the  community  and  the  college  align  themselves  as  they  face  the 
future,  the  college's  life  will  be  assured  and  that  of  the  commu- 
nity enhanced. 

A  significant  part  of  the  story  of  the  schools  in  the  county  is 
the  story  of  athletics.  McMinn  County  has  a  strong  tradition  of 
prowess  on  the  gridiron,  basketball  court,  and  baseball  diamond. 
From  the  time  of  the  old  softball  and  baseball  teams  that  brought 
large  crowds  to  Fisher  Field  to  the  present  exodus  to  Knoxville 
on  football  Saturdays  to  see  "The  Big  Orange,"  McMinn  Coun- 
tians  have  been  sports  enthusiasts.  People  are  likely  to  recall 
sporting  events  and  athletes'  names  more  quickly  than  those  of 
politicians,  ministers,  and  soldiers.  It  is  impossible  to  recount  all 
of  the  anecdotes  relating  to  county  athletic  heroes  and  their  ac- 
complishments. A  "Sports  Hall  of  Fame"  has  been  established  for 
that  purpose.  The  persons  cited  here  are  only  a  representative 
sample. 

Perhaps  the  most  successful  athlete  from  the  county  was  Glenn 
"Mutt" Knox,  who  graduated  from  McMinn  County  High  School 
in  1938  and  then  attended  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College  for  two 
years.  With  the  encouragement  of  his  coach,  Rube  McCray,  he 


McMINN 


99 


An  Athens  High  School  football  team  near  the  turn  of  the  century 


then  enrolled  at  William  and  Mary  where  he  attained  Southern 
Conference  MVP  honors  in  basketball  in  1943  and  All-Southern 
honors  in  football.  He  went  on  to  play  both  professional  bas- 
ketball and  football  and  later  became  a  successful  automobile 
dealer  in  Richmond,  Virginia. 

J.  B.  "Ace"  Adams  is  a  commanding  figure  in  sports  in  the 
county's  history.  He  excelled  as  a  baseball  player  at  the  University 
of  Tennessee  and  Tennessee  Wesleyan  before  going  on  to  coach 
and  serve  as  athletic  director  at  McMinn  County  High  School  in 
the  early  1950s.  His  teams  attained  some  of  the  best  records  and 
won  some  of  the  biggest  games  in  the  school's  history.  Adams  was 
also  a  member  of  the  famed  "Athens  Oilers."  His  son,  Joe,  has 
become  one  of  the  most  outstanding  baseball  coaches  in  the  state 
at  Bradley  County  High  School. 

What  "Ace"  Adams  has  been  to  athletics  in  Athens,  "Buck" 
Brown  has  been  to  sports  in  Englewood.  An  exceptional  baseball 
and  basketball  player  whose  skilled  pitching  became  his  trade- 
mark, he  served  as  coach  and  athletic  director  at  Englewood  High 


100  Tennessee  County  Histoiy  Series 

and  later  at  the  new  McMinn  Central  High  School  into  the  early 
1970s.  Englewood  fans  also  recall  Charley  Raper  and  Willard  Reid, 
both  well-known  baseball  players,  and  Shirley  Majors,  one  of  their 
most  memorable  football  players. 

Wayne  Grubb  came  from  one  of  the  most  famous  athletic 
families  in  the  county,  and  went  on  to  star  at  UT  from  1958— 
1960.  He  gained  the  honor  of  being  named  to  the  All-Alabama 
Opponents  team  in  1960.  In  one  of  the  most  famous  games  in 
the  history  of  the  university,  Tennessee  faced  eventual  national 
champion  Louisiana  State  and  Heisman  trophy-winner  Billy 
Cannon  in  Knoxville  on  November  7,  1959.  With  the  game  at  its 
end,  and  the  score  14—13  in  favor  of  UT,  LSU  attempted  to  run 
Cannon  for  a  two  point  conversion  that  would  win  the  game. 
One  of  the  most  celebrated  pictures  in  the  history  of  Sports  Il- 
lustrated magazine  shows  Grubb  at  the  goal  line  tackling  Cannon 
and  preserving  the  Tennessee  victory.  Grubb  was  joined  by  fel- 
low Athenian  Jim  Cartwright  on  this  team. 

Bob  "Mr.  Dirty"Deal  was  well-known  multisport  athlete  in  the 
second  quarter  of  the  1900s,  who  came  to  be  best-known  as  an 
umpire.  Deal  infuriated  fans  and  coaches  alike,  but  to  the  play- 
ers who  came  to  know  him  personally,  there  was  no  kinder  and 
more  caring  man.  His  great  interest  in  athletics  certainly  helped 
to  raise  the  county's  sporting  experiences  to  higher  plateaus.  Fans 
of  Etowah  athletics  also  recall  the  exploits  of  J.  "King"  Dunn, 
Frank  Thomas  "Fatty"  York,  and  Max  Carroll. 

The  following  names  will  bring  back  memories  for  many 
McMinn  Countians:  Buenos  Baker,  Henry  "Pie"  Barnett,  Boyd 
Coffee,  "Big  Peanut" Daugherty,  Claude  "Steel  Arm"Dickey,  Wil- 
lard Eaves  (a  member  of  the  1938  Duke  University  Rose  Bowl 
team),  Lee  Fisher,  Reed  Halcomb,  Rankin  Hudson,  Hobart  "Feets" 
Jones,  Ralph  Jordan,  David  Knox,  Glenn  "Coot"  Lawson,  Ray- 
mond McKee,  Benny  Monroe,  Phil  Pierce,  Mike  Reynolds,  Tommy 
Samples,  "Tip"  Smith,  David  Vestal,  and  Carter  Whitaker. 

Newspapers 

McMinn  County  has  been  fortunate  in  having  excellent 
newspapers  across  its  history,  although  there  have  been  papers 


McMINN  101 

which  have  taken  opposing  views  and  often  been  in  conflict.  The 
two  present  papers — The  Etowah  Enterprise  and  the  award-win- 
ning The  Daily  Post- Athenian — are  prime  examples  of  newspapers 
committed  to  keeping  their  subscribers  abreast  of  the  informa- 
tion they  need. 

The  first  newspaper  was  The  Hiwassee  and  Athens  Gazette,  which 
was  started  in  1830  by  two  Rhea  Countians,  S.  M.  and  J.  C.  S. 
Hood.  This  paper  continued  until  1833  when  it  was  succeeded 
by  J.  M.  Brezeales  Tennessee  Journal.  Three  other  papers  estab- 
lished before  midcentury  were  The  Hiwassee  Patriot,  The  Athens 
Courier,  and  The  Hiwassee  Republican. 

The  most  significant  early  newspaper  event  involved  bring- 
ing Samuel  P.  Ivins  from  New  Jersey  via  Knoxville  in  1848  to 
found  The  Athens  Post.  The  paper  was  conceived  as  a  propaganda 
medium  to  advance  the  new  interest  in  railroading.  Using  news- 
papers for  political  and  business  purposes  was  a  typical  practice 
in  the  mid-1800s.  Ivins  was  successful,  and  The  Post  built  a  strong 
foundation  under  his  direction  until  the  late  1880s. 

During  the  Civil  War  a  Union  paper  called  The  Athens  Union 
Post  came  into  existence.  An  opposition  paper,  The  Athenian,  was 
immediately  established;  The  Athenian  survived.  In  the  late  1920s, 
E.  T  Taylor  and  J.  Rollo  Emert  merged  the  two  papers  and  pub- 
lished a  twice-weekly  Post-Athenian  from  the  North  Jackson 
location  that  was  used  until  the  1960s. 

For  a  short  time  around  1936  Hurst  Paul  published  the  McMinn 
County  Herald.  Taylor  was  looking  for  a  buyer  for  his  paper,  and 
on  March  15  Fred  Wankan  arrived  from  Mississippi  to  survey 
the  possibilities  of  coming  to  McMinn  County.  Wankan  wanted 
to  buy  both  local  papers  and  merge  them  but  could  not  reach  an 
agreement  with  Paul.  Soon  after  Wankans  purchase  of  the  Post- 
Athenian,  the  Paul  paper  ceased  to  exist.  Within  a  year,  Wankans 
paper  began  to  be  published  daily  and  the  present  name,  The 
Daily  Post-Athenian,  was  established. 

In  1937  Wankan  made  two  acquisitions  that  raised  newspa- 
pering  to  new  heights  in  McMinn  County.  First,  the  most  mod- 
ern press  available  was  installed,  and  was  used  for  twenty  years. 
Then,  and  most  important,  Wankan  convinced  Neal  Ensminger 


102  Tennessee  County  Histoiy  Series 


J.  Neal  Ensminger,  executive  editor 
of  The  Daily  Post- Athenian 


to  come  to  work  for  the  paper.  Across  the  years,  Ensminger  has 
worked  in  every  branch  of  the  business  from  reporter  to  exec- 
utive editor — with  plenty  of  experience  on  the  presses  to  boot. 
Of  greater  significance  than  any  particular  facet  of  his  work,  the 
spirit  of  the  man  has  become  the  spirit  of  the  paper,  and  The  Daily 
Post-Athenian  has  been  recognized  repeatedly  as  one  of  the  most 
outstanding  small  town  papers  in  the  Southeast. 

To  pick  a  representative  citizen  from  all  who  have  lived  in 
the  county  across  the  years  would  be  difficult,  but  it  would  be  a 
compliment  to  the  county  to  allow  Neal  Ensminger  to  stand  in 
that  position.  His  work  with  the  newspaper,  local  civic  clubs,  fund- 
raising  projects,  his  Sunday  school  class  at  Keith  Memorial,  and 
his  advocacy  of  Tennessee  Wesleyan  have  affected  the  lives  of 
countless  persons  in  the  region.  He  represents  the  best  that 
the  county  can  aspire  to,  and  the  excellence  of  The  Daily  Post- 
Athenian  over  the  past  half-century  becomes  a  fitting  tribute  to 
him — a  man  of  gentleness  and  wisdom  whose  description  of 
the  wind  in  the  top  of  the  mulberry  bush  is  etched  on  the  mem- 
ory as  much  as  the  cadence  of  his  voice  and  the  gleam  in  his 


McMINN  103 

eye.  Alongside  the  other  institutions  of  the  county,  Ensminger 
himself  is  an  institution. 

Wankan  sold  the  DPA  in  1939,  and  two  years  later  it  passed 
into  the  hands  of  Lowell  F.  Arterburn.  Arterburn's  creative  con- 
cern with  communications  not  only  advanced  the  paper,  but  also 
led  to  the  establishment  of  the  county's  first  radio  station,  WLAR. 
When  Arterburn  died  in  1959  his  wife,  Helen,  who  was  also  a 
physician,  led  the  paper.  In  1962  she  sold  her  interests  to  a  group 
led  bv  Bob  Svkes.  One  of  the  better-known  writers  of  the  region, 
Bill  Casteel  of  The  Chattanooga  Times,  was  reared  in  Athens  and 
started  his  career  at  the  DPA. 

The  other  major  newspaper  in  the  county's  history  has  been 
The  Etowah  Enterprise.  It  was  established  in  1907  by  Thomas  F. 
Peck  from  Madisonville  who  was  in  charge  of  the  paper's  op- 
eration until  1946  when  it  was  sold  to  a  local  group  and  Frank 
McKinney  became  editor-publisher.  McKinney  directed  the  pa- 
per for  nearly  30  years.  The  DPA  group,  led  by  Sykes,  purchased 
the  paper  in  1964.  For  a  short  time  in  the  early  part  of  the  cen- 
tury two  other  papers  appeared  in  Etowah,  The  Etowah  New  Era 
and  The  Etowah  Post.  For  a  while  a  paper  called  The  McMinn  County 
Herald  was  published  in  Englewood. 

Finally,  there  has  been  one  other  newspaper  venture  of  im- 
portance in  the  county.  In  1960  Archie  Wattenbarger  established 
a  weekly  called  The  Athens  Press.  The  paper  did  well,  but  Watten- 
barger s  untimely  death  two  years  later  made  it  impossible  for 
the  paper  to  continue.  A  last  note  should  call  attention  to  Daisy 
Rice  Spradling  whose  reporting  for  the  Chattanooga  Times  and 
feature  writing  about  social  and  cultural  events  in  McMinn  County 
made  her  byline  famous  throughout  the  region. 

Only  a  lack  of  space  prohibits  some  discussion  of  other  in- 
stitutions and  similar  organizations  which  have  been  important 
in  the  county.  Some  mention  should  be  made,  however,  of  the 
Browning  Circle.  Organized  as  a  women's  reading  group  by  Mrs. 
May  Noel  Moody  in  1891,  the  circle  ultimately  grew  to  be  the  city 
of  Athens  only  "public"  library.  The  group  named  itself  after  the 
poet  Elizabeth  Barrett  Browning  and  took  as  their  motto  a  line 
from  her  work:  "We  strike  out  blindly  to  a  mark,  believed  in,  but 


104  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

not  seen."  Over  the  years  the  Browning  Circle  has  made  many 
efforts  at  civic  enrichment  in  addition  to  the  library. 

A  Faithful  Legacy  Through  Two  Wars 

Young  men  from  McMinn  County  have  always  responded 
quickly  to  their  country's  call  during  times  of  war.  Their  ances- 
tors had  fought  at  Kings  Mountain  in  the  Revolutionary  War. 
From  the  Creek  Wars  to  the  Battle  of  New  Orleans,  from  the 
Civil  War  to  the  Spanish-American  conflict,  McMinn  Countians 
displayed  exceptional  valor  and  patriotism. 

Charles  F  Keith,  Jr.,  has  left  an  intriguing  memoir  of  the  first 
twentieth-century  army  unit  to  be  mustered  in  the  county,  Com- 
pany "I"  of  the  Sixth  Regiment,  National  Guard  of  the  state  of 
Tennessee.  The  date  of  muster  was  December  20, 1901.  The  orig- 
inal group  was  made  up  of  :  James  A.  Arnwine,  John  B.  Camp, 
Hershel  M.  Candler,  James  F  Cook,  Robert  C.  Cockron,  William 
L.  Cook,  Affett  C.  Duff,  Harry  Dixon,  Wiley  A.  Foster,  J.  Horace 
Gauldy,  Pat  S.  Horton,  Richard  J.  Haley,  William  R.  Horton,  Wil- 
liam O.  Hoskins,  Marshall  J.  Keith,  Charles  F  Keith,  Jr.,  Samuel 
Kelley,  George  C.  Long,  Bruce  A.  Long,  M.  Luther  Minge,  T 
Edwin  Moody,  Clay  S.  Matlock,  Edward  A.  Meckling,  F  O.  Mah- 
ery,  Harvey  Melton,  James  R  Minge,  Jr.,  Thomas  F  Neil,  W  Boyd 
Nankiville,  Roger  L.  Owen,  Charles  H.  Prescott,  Harry  C.  Pe- 
ters, Allen  W  Rogers,  Fred  S.  Riddle,  William  H.  Rogers,  Robert 
A.  Reed,  Claude  W  Richardson,  Mack  W  Smith,  Charles  M. 
Sanders,  Ben  F  Sherlin,  William  H.  Stansel,  William  C.  Steed, 
William  R.  Thomas,  Jacob  T  Tuell,  Ralph  E.  Wattles,  Charles  F 
Wralker,  and  Ollie  M.  West. 

There  had  been  a  terrible  storm  and  several  men  in  the  county 
could  not  make  it  to  the  "Old  Opera  House"  on  North  Jackson 
Street  for  the  mustering  ceremony.  A  Captain  Drewery  had  come 
from  Chattanooga  to  be  in  charge  and  would  not  be  outdone  by 
the  elements.  He  simply  took  local  citizens  who  were  there,  gave 
them  the  names  of  absentees,  and  proceeded  with  the  roll  call 
now  containing  the  requisite  number  for  an  official  mustering. 
The  stand-ins  were:  Sheriff  S.  T  Porter,  Professor  W  F  Mc- 


McMINN  105 

Carron,  Dr.  John  B.  Cross,  Dr.  W.  W.  Grant,  George  Kelley,  John 
Jackson,  M.  L.  Luther  (who  had  been  a  drummer  boy  in  the  Con- 
federate army),  Dr.  James  Nankiville,  Tom  Evans,  N.  Lockmiller, 
John  Tuell,  John  Peters,  and  Roger  Sherman. 

Soon  old  Springfield  rifles  and  winter  weight  uniforms  were 
issued  to  the  new  company.  By  summer,  the  unit  was  allowed  to 
have  their  own  light-weight  summer  uniforms  made.  A  Mrs.  Barr 
made  the  shirts  and  put  brass  buttons  on  them.  The  unit  was 
called  "The  Brandon  Guard,"  after  the  adjutant  general  of  the 
state  at  that  time,  and  had  blue  silk  ribbons  with  gold  lettering 
of  this  designation  which  were  worn  on  civilian  clothing.  The 
Opera  House  was  used  as  an  armory,  and  troops  drilled  on  the 
town  square.  Young  girls  came  to  watch  the  troops  drill,  and  they 
all  went  to  Algoods  Bake  and  Ice  Cream  Parlor  after  the  drills 
for  refreshments. 

In  1902  state  militia  (as  the  national  guard  was  then  called) 
from  throughout  Tennessee  camped  in  Athens,  creating  great 
excitement.  The  camp  was  set  up  in  North  Athens  along  Wood- 
ward Avenue  and  was  named  "Camp  Louise"  after  the  wife  of 
the  governor  at  that  time,  James  B.  Frazier.  Mrs.  Frazier  was  the 
former  Louise  Douglas  Keith  of  Athens. 

According  to  Keiths  account:  "Each  man  drew  two  blankets, 
two  blocks  of  straw,  two  wax  candles,  two  men  occupied  a  tent. 
For  a  bed  you  put  your  'poncho1  down  then  spread  your  straw, 
placed  one  blanket  over  the  straw,  and  then  used  the  other  one 
to  cover  yourself.  Then  the  tent  had  to  be  ditched  around  to 
keep  water  from  running  into  it  when  it  rained.  If  you  sat  down 
you  had  to  sit  on  the  straw  covered  bed,  as  no  one  but  the  officers 
had  chairs  in  their  tents."  Keith  then  reported  that  it  was  the  first 
nights  sleep  on  the  ground  for  most  of  the  company,  "but  it  did 
not  make  any  sick." 

Except  for  a  misunderstanding  about  which  guard  station 
would  let  troops  from  the  unit  back  into  camp  after  a  late  trip 
to  Algoods  that  ended  with  Keith  and  some  of  his  friends  in  the 
guardhouse,  the  camp  was  uneventful.  The  governor  and  his 
wife  came  to  town  for  a  large  reception.  "Troop  B,"a  crack  cav- 
alry unit  from  Chattanooga,  arrived  to  add  to  the  festivities,  and 


106  Tennessee  Comity  History  Series 

according  to  Keith  "the  girls  of  town  surely  fell  for  the  troops 
with  their  good  looking  uniforms,  spurs  and  sabers."  Beyond  a 
doubt,  times  were  much  simpler  then! 

In  early  1916  the  Mexican  revolutionary  Pancho  Villa  exe- 
cuted 15  American  citizens  and  raided  Columbus,  New  Mexico. 
President  Woodrow  Wilson  immediately  ordered  American  sol- 
diers under  the  command  of  Gen.  John  Pershing  to  capture  Villa 
and  put  an  end  to  the  border  conflicts.  Serving  as  part  of  the 
Third  Tennessee  Infantry,  McMinn  Countians  were  on  the  Mex- 
ican border  from  July  1916  until  March  1917.  Their  efforts  con- 
stituted little  more  than  a  punitive  counterattack,  and  although 
he  was  chased  over  a  good  deal  of  the  Southwest,  Villa  avoided 
capture. 

The  time  back  home  was  short-lived,  since  by  early  August 
the  local  unit  was  recalled  to  active  duty,  spent  a  period  of  time 
training  in  Greenville,  South  Carolina,  and  sailed  for  France  on 
May  11,  1918.  The  unit  was  engaged  in  combat  on  July  9  and 
became  involved  in  the  most  decisive  continual  offensive  of  the 
war,  which  had  them  fighting  almost  every  day  through  October 
23,  when  they  were  finally  relieved. 

During  this  3V3  month  period,  the  army  advanced  from  the 
low  country  of  France  and  Belgium  through  the  Argonne  and 
nearly  to  the  German  border.  The  most  significant  moment  came 
on  September  29,  1918,  when  the  formidable  Hindenburg  Line 
was  smashed  and  the  defeat  of  Germany  assured. 

In  May  1918  another  group  of  soldiers  left  McMinn  County, 
ultimately  destined  to  fight  over  much  of  the  same  terrain.  This 
time,  it  was  90  men  who  represented  the  first  "selective  service" 
that  the  county  provided.  Training  was  done  at  Camp  Pike,  Ar- 
kansas, where  the  majority  of  the  trainees  were  from  Michigan 
and  Wisconsin.  They  were  fascinated  by  the  East  Tennesseans, 
and  this  fascination  was  heightened  by  John  Derrick  of  Etowah 
who  went  through  the  camp  giving  speeches  telling  about  how, 
when  called  from  his  home  on  Starrs  Mountain  to  serve  his 
country,  he  came  riding  out  of  the  hills  on  a  mountain  lion  and 
wearing  a  rattlesnake  for  a  necktie.  Several  of  the  men,  includ- 
ing Derrick,  Charles  Boone,  and  Vernie  Smith,  were  from  Eto- 


McMINN  107 

wah;  Charles  Gemblin,  Oscar  Kibble,  Oscar  Liner,  and  Luther 
Stephenson  were  from  Calhoun,  George  Parkison  was  from 
Riceville,  and  John  Kelley  from  Athens. 

Their  first  combat  was  early  October  1918  in  the  Argonne, 
and  they  soon  pushed  forward  beyond  the  Meuse  River  in  daily 
fighting.  Liner,  who  was  a  barber  by  trade  and  often  cut  hair  for 
soldiers  while  they  sat  on  blasted  tree  stumps,  and  Boone  were 
killed  during  this  month  and  a  half  of  battle.  Like  the  McMinn 
Countians  who  came  to  this  region  25  years  later,  they  faced  other 
obstacles  in  addition  to  the  enemy — a  flu  epidemic  killed  nearly 
as  many  as  bullets,  shrapnel,  and  mustard  gas. 

On  the  morning  of  November  11  scouts  were  sent  out  to  ob- 
serve enemy  positions  as  was  customary.  One  group  walked  square 
into  the  face  of  a  well-hidden  German  machine  gun  nest — they 
could  have  reached  out  and  touched  the  barrel  of  the  gun.  In- 
stead of  firing,  the  Germans  motioned  for  them  to  go  back.  At 
11:00  a.m.,  word  came  that  the  Germans  had  surrendered — the 
men  in  the  machine  gun  nest  had  already  received  the  word.  At 
noon,  American  and  German  soldiers  met  in  the  no-mans-land 
between  their  battle  lines,  shook  hands,  embraced,  danced,  and 
cried. 

The  unit  was  pulled  back  and  that  evening  collected  an  enor- 
mous pile  of  wood  to  build  a  bonfire.  With  something  of  that  fire 
still  sparkling  in  his  eyes,  an  88-year-old  veteran  John  Kelley, 
recalled  how  they  sat  in  circles  around  the  fire  and  sang  battle 
songs  to  celebrate  the  victory.  When  the  armistice  was  signed  on 
November  17,  the  men  marched  to  the  Rhine  River  Valley  where 
they  served  as  occupation  troops  until  April  of  1919. 

Perhaps  the  most  decorated  person  from  this  area  of  the  state 
was  David  W  Lillard,  who  had  come  from  Decatur  to  practice 
law  in  Etowah  in  1910.  He  was  a  leading  figure  in  that  community 
until  1941.  Lillard  commanded  the  Etowah  guard  company,  took 
it  to  the  Mexican  border,  and  participated  in  21  major  battles  in 
France  before  being  wounded  at  Ponchaux  on  October  7,  1918. 
In  spite  of  his  wounds,  he  led  his  men  to  victory  and  received 
for  his  valor,  among  several  other  awards,  the  French  Groix  de 
Guerre  and  the  American  Distinguished  Service  Gross,  be- 


108  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

stowed  by  General  Pershing  himself.  When  Lillard  returned  to 
the  countv  in  1920  a  motorcade  of  several  hundred  cars  escorted 
him  from  Athens  back  to  Etowah. 

Federal  recognition  of  the  local  guard  unit  came  on  May  1, 
1938,  and  bv  early  1939,  as  war  clouds  rose  in  Europe  and  the 
Pacific,  the  unit  was  fully  enlisted.  While  numerous  individuals 
fought  in  every  theater  and  branch  of  the  armed  services  in  World 
War  II,  McMinn  County  became  identified  with  the  activities  of 
the  local  guard  unit,  Company  B,  117th  Infantry,  30th  (or  "Old 
Hickory")  Division.  About  half  of  the  men  were  from  the  city  of 
Athens  and  the  remainder  from  the  rural  area.  By  the  end  of 
September  1940,  the  company  had  moved  to  Fort  Jackson,  South 
Carolina.  The  first  officers  were  Capt.  Herman  L.  Moses,  1st.  Lt. 
Walter  E.  Moses,  and  2nd  Lt.  Glenn  Aytes.  Soon  Warren  Giles 
and  Zeb  Sherrill  were  added  to  the  rank  of  officers  of  the  com- 
pany. Company  B  had  been  at  Fort  Jackson  only  a  short  time 
before  Staff  Sgt.  Charles  P.  Robinson  established  a  reputation 
for  operating  the  finest  mess  in  the  entire  division.  Col.  Grant 
A.  Schlieker  assumed  command  of  the  117th  Infantry  on  August 
12,  1942.  Within  a  few  weeks  he  moved  Sergeant  Robinson  to 
regimental  headquarters  to  operate  the  officers'  mess.  He  did 
such  a  superior  job  that  he  had  more  influence  with  Colonel 
Schlieker  than  any  other  officer  or  man  in  the  regiment. 

Because  the  company  was  composed  of  men  who  had  had 
military  training,  they  were  first  used  to  train  draftees.  This  con- 
tinued until  late  1943,  when  plans  were  made  to  move  the  com- 
pany to  England  to  begin  preparations  for  the  invasion  of  Europe. 
The  company  boarded  troop  ships  in  February  1944 — an  un- 
forgetable  introduction  to  ocean  travel  for  most  of  the  company. 
Many  of  them  could  hardly  wait  for  sight  of  the  first  German 
who  could  be  repaid  for  having  made  them  endure  this  agoniz- 
ing experience. 

The  company  trained  in  England  through  late  May  amidst 
the  friendliness  of  the  English  people  and  growing  rumors  and 
speculation  about  an  invasion.  At  last,  a  tight  lid  of  secrecy  was 
thrown  on  the  encamped  unit  the  first  week  of  June,  and  it  be- 
came clear  that  actual  combat  was  close  at  hand.  Major  Giles  was 


McMINN  109 

the  regimental  intelligence  officer  and  paricipated  in  the 
initial  planning. 

The  first  battalion  of  the  "Old  Hickory"  Division  landed  on 
the  Normandy  Beach  on  "D  Day  +  6."  They  moved  a  short  dis- 
tance inland,  dug  in,  and  waited.  Finally,  on  June  20,  the  enemy 
was  engaged,  and  Pvt.  Wayne  E.  Lavender  became  the  first  battle 
casualty. 

The  first  three  weeks  of  July  found  Company  B  (code  name 
"Curlew  Baker")  engaged  in  what  came  to  be  their  most  difficult 
moment  of  the  entire  war:  the  hedgerows  between  the  Vire  River 
and  the  critical  German  stronghold  at  St.  L6.  Crossing  the  Vire 
would  be  the  first  real  battle,  but  until  St.  L6  could  be  captured 
there  would  be  no  significant  "break-out"  from  the  beachhead. 

Beyond  the  fields  and  orchards  inland  from  the  Normandy 
beach  the  French  countryside  was  crisscrossed  by  earthen  dikes, 
tree-covered  and  sometimes  ten  feet  high,  that  had  been  raised 
over  the  centuries  of  farming  and  construction  of  roads  and 
drainage  ditches.  A  War  Department  document  from  the  period 
reported  that  in  a  typical  eight-square-mile  section  of  Normandy 
there  were  more  than  3900  hedged  enclosures.  They  were  per- 
fect for  tanks,  machine  gunners,  and  riflemen  to  hide  behind, 
and  almost  completely  impregnable  by  conventional  means  of 
warfare.  A  successful  days  fighting  could  easily  be  measured  in 
feet  and  yards — and  lives  lost. 

On  July  7  the  Vire  River  crossing  took  place  and  the  initial 
battle  to  break  out  of  the  Normandy  beachhead  was  under  way. 
Company  B  played  a  large  part  in  this  crossing.  Capt.  Edward 
R.  Friday,  commander  of  the  company,  was  wounded  and  Lt. 
Daniel  L.  Sullivan,  Jr.,  assumed  command.  By  nightfall,  after  the 
Germans  had  counterattacked  but  been  repulsed,  Company  B 
and  the  remainder  of  the  117th  Infantry  had  firmly  established 
its  bridgehead.  On  July  9  the  Germans  counterattacked  once 
more,  this  time  combining  infantry  with  tanks  from  the  Panzer 
Lehr  Division;  they  were  repulsed  with  heavy  losses.  On  July  12 
Lt.  Sullivan  was  wounded  and  Lt.  Robert  C.  Spiker  from  Mor- 
gantown,  West  Virginia,  assumed  command  for  the  remainder 
of  the  war. 


110  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

With  the  mixed  blessing  of  a  saturation  air  bombardment — 
often  the  pilots  bombed  and  strafed  their  own  infantry — the  vic- 
tory was  finally  won  by  July  19.  The  battle  had  been  costly.  Of 
the  original  3240  riflemen  in  the  division,  perhaps  as  many  as 
757c  were  injured  or  killed. 

The  next  major  action  took  place  at  Mortain  and  St.  Barthe- 
lemy,  where  a  German  counterattack  of  four  panzer  divisions 
and  all  kinds  of  artillery  and  infantry  units  were  thrown  into  an 
attack  that  was  designed  to  do  nothing  less  than  drive  the  Allies 
back  to  the  sea.  But  "Old  Hickory" stood  in  the  breach,  and  while 
sustaining  great  losses — Company  C  was  all  but  wiped  out — held 
its  ground.  In  postwar  interviews,  according  to  Lt.  Col.  J.  B.  Owen, 
Jr.,  of  Calhoun,  the  leading  German  commanders  Jodl,  Keitel, 
and  Kesselring  considered  the  stand  at  Mortain  as  a  turning  point 
that  led  to  the  ultimate  defeat  of  the  Third  Reich. 

The  Siegfried  Line  along  the  western  frontier  of  Germany 
had  been  designed  as  an  impenetrable  last  line  of  defense  which 
would  in  all  likelihood  never  have  to  be  used.  In  case  it  was,  it 
had  been  fortified  with  some  of  the  best  soldiers  and  most  mod- 
ern war  technology  available.  By  early  October  1944  "Old  Hick- 
ory" had  arrived  and  begun  its  attack.  Company  B  comprised 
the  "valiant  men"at  the  forefront  of  the  battle  who  were  assigned 
the  painful  task  of  destroying  three  concrete-encased  enemy  gun 
emplacements  called  "pill  boxes. "They  captured  their  three  and 
two  more.  October  2  was  a  bloody  day  for  Company  B,  when  it 
suffered  30  casualties.  After  six  more  days  of  fighting,  Company 
B  breached  the  Seigfried  Line. 

In  December  Company  B  reached  the  Forest  of  Ardennes 
and  faced  an  obstacle  as  grievous  as  the  hedgerows  and  the  con- 
crete pill  boxes — winter.  In  fact,  the  winter  of  1944—45  was  one 
of  the  harshest  on  record.  Men  fell  to  frostbite  almost  as  rapidly 
as  they  had  to  bullets.  Veterans  recall  digging  small  foxholes, 
barely  big  enough  for  two  men,  spreading  one  poncho  and  over- 
coat on  the  ground,  lying  beside  each  other,  and  placing  a  second 
coat  on  top.  Enough  body  heat  was  generated  to  provide  warmth. 

Into  the  midst  of  these  desperate  circumstances,  Germany 
launched  its  most  famous  last  ditch  effort  to  turn  the  Allied  tide, 


McMINN  111 

the  Battle  of  the  Bulge.  Again,  the  30th  Division  was  at  the  center 
of  the  fighting.  Veterans  can  recall  being  rushed  in  blacked-out 
truck  convoys  through  the  frigid  night  into  areas  that  were  thought 
to  be  secure.  Massed  armor  moved  all  around  them,  and  the 
infantrymen  became  nervous  from  being  in  a  closed  vehicle  in- 
stead of  in  the  open  field  where  instincts  of  self-preservation  which 
had  been  honed  over  the  last  months  could  be  best  employed. 
On  more  than  one  occasion  on  that  night  enemy  flares  lit  the  sky, 
and  the  men  of  Company  B  would  tumble  from  the  trucks  and 
run  for  the  cover  of  the  tree  line. 

The  radio  voice  of  Nazi  Germany,  "Axis  Sally,"  according  to 
Owen,  threatened  "the  fanatical  Thirtieth  Division,  Rossevelt's 
SS  troops,  are  enroute  to  the  rescue;  but  this  time  it  will  be  com- 
pletely annihilated."  The  First  SS  Panzer  Division,  perhaps  the 
best  unit  that  Germany  had  left,  zealously  fought  to  make  her 
prophecy  come  true,  but  again  a  German  fighting  force  met  its 
match  and  the  battle  was  turned. 

As  Spring  approached,  the  company  received  special  train- 
ing in  river  crossing  for  the  next  major  offensive,  the  crossing 
of  the  Rhine.  The  Allied  command  expected  intense  resistance 
since  this  was  the  last  natural  obstacle  before  Berlin.  The  antic- 
ipated battle  was  so  important  that  generals  Dwight  Eisenhower 
and  William  Simpson  visited  with  the  troops  on  the  night  of  March 
23,  1945.  In  Owens  record,  when  Sgt.  Leroy  Summers  of  Com- 
pany B's  second  platoon  was  asked  about  the  chances  of  a  suc- 
cessful river  crossing,  he  responded:  "General,  if  Company  B 
can't  make  it  tonight,  you  can  give  up  hope  for  the  whole  Ninth 
Army." 

The  crossing  was  made  with  relative  ease,  and  suddenly  Ger- 
man prisoners  were  being  taken  in  droves.  Company  B  still  had 
a  major  problem,  however;  they  were  moving  so  quickly  beyond 
anticipated  objectives  that  they  were  coming  under  fire  from  their 
own  air  support.  Daily  advances  of  fifty  miles  or  more  became 
common — quite  the  reverse  of  the  dreaded  hedgerows. 

Finally,  at  the  end  of  April,  Company  B  took  the  city  of 
Magdeburg  on  the  Elbe  River.  Fully  capable  of  advancing  to  Ber- 
lin immediately,  the  company  fell  victim  to  the  widely  disputed 


1 1 2  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

decision  requiring  it  to  wait  for  the  Russians  to  complete  their 
westward  march  across  Germany. 

Soon  the  company  returned  to  the  United  States.  The  men 
were  greeted  in  New  York  harbor  by  the  beatific  symbol  of  lib- 
erty's torch,  which  somehow  burned  more  intensely  because  of 
the  past  year  of  their  lives.  By  V-J  Day  most  of  the  veterans  were 
back  in  the  county,  ready  to  carry  on  their  fight  for  freedom  in 
an  unusual  way. 

Company  B  was  part  of  one  of  the  most  highly  decorated 
fighting  units  in  the  entire  war,  which  received  two  Distinguished 
Unit  Citations,  the  French  Croix  de  Guerre  with  Silver  Star  for 
the  Siegfried  Line  offensive,  and  the  Belgian  Fourragere  for  the 
Ardennes  campaign,  that  governments  highest  unit  decoration. 
More  enlisted  men  became  officers  from  this  company  than  any 
other  national  guard  company  in  the  U.S.  Army;  three  became 
generals — John  Calhoun,  Warren  Giles,  and  Carl  Lay. 

Three  other  men  received  distinction  in  another  way — Jim 
Barkley,  John  Elkins,  and  Charles  Hughes  were  the  only  infan- 
trymen in  the  company  to  fight  through  the  thickest  of  all  the 
battles  from  the  Vire  River  to  Madgeburg  without  serious  injury 
or  battle  relief.  Participants  in  an  amazing  record  of  bravery,  they 
were  there  every  step  of  the  way.  Their  "medal  of  honor"  was 
the  silver-wreathed  blue  and  silver  combat  infantryman's  badge. 

Wars  are  always  instances  of  man's  inability  to  live  at  his  best. 
Nevertheless,  the  virtues  of  courage,  devotion,  and  honor  give 
rise  to  heroic  actions  by  otherwise  peaceful  citizen-soldiers.  The 
record  of  McMinn  Countians  in  the  great  world  wars,  including 
3500  who  participated  in  World  War  II,  reveals  a  striking  patri- 
otism that  future  generations  need  to  recall,  take  pride  in,  and 
be  inspired  by. 

The  Battle  of  Athens 

McMinn  County  has  always  been  politically  divergent,  and 
many  times  that  divergence  has  become  belligerent  and  even  vi- 
olent. The  confrontations  between  the  old  Whig  and  Democratic 
factions  before  the  Civil  War  on  the  town  square  at  Athens  were 


McMINN  113 

preludes  to  other  political  differences  that  have  surfaced  across 
the  years.  In  addition,  there  has  almost  always  been  a  spirit  of 
competition  between  the  various  cities  and  communities  in  the 
county — in  the  1950s,  it  was  not  unusual  for  a  McMinn-Etowah 
football  game  to  become  a  pitched  battle,  punctuated  on  at  least 
one  occasion  by  gunfire. 

Sometimes  this  political  radicality  could  be  based  on  what  were 
conceived  as  the  highest  of  moral  and  human  intentions.  The 
extremely  active  prohibition  and  temperance  movements,  that 
actually  moved  women  with  axes  to  invade  taverns  in  neighbor- 
ing Meigs  County,  are  a  good  example  of  this.  Prohibitionists 
became  active  soon  after  the  Civil  War  and  organized  groups  like 
The  Sons  of  Temperance  and  The  Women's  Christian  Temper- 
ance Union.  Speakers  toured  the  county  in  a  manner  similar  to 
the  pre-Civil  War  debates.  In  1909  a  majority  of  citizens  voted  to 
become  "dry"  and,  the  bootleggers  notwithstanding,  the  county 
has  remained  so  until  today. 

A  notable  example  of  radical  political  activity  took  place  in 
1920  and  is  a  certain  hallmark  for  the  county.  After  years  of  in- 
tense political  maneuvering,  the  women's  suffrage  movement  fi- 
nally succeeded  in  getting  Congress  to  propose  an  amendment 
to  the  U.S.  Constitution.  It  remained  for  36  of  the  then  48  states 
to  favor  the  amendment  and  it  would  become  law.  By  August  of 
1920  Tennessee  had  become  the  key,  36th  state.  The  state  leg- 
islature deadlocked  twice  on  a  vote  to  table,  and  the  opposition 
forces,  feeling  that  the  resolution  itself  would  fail,  called  for  a 
vote.  Harry  T.  Burn  from  Niota  (who  had  voted  to  table)  cast 
what  turned  out  to  be  the  deciding  vote  in  favor  of  the  resolu- 
tion. Burn  voted  for  the  resolution  because  he  had  promised  his 
mother  that  he  would  help.  One  of  the  most  important  and-long- 
awaited  movements  in  American  political  history  was  complete. 

However,  no  political  activity  in  the  county's  history  has  ever 
come  close  to  rivaling  those  events  which  took  place  on  election 
day  in  Athens  in  1946.  Those  events  have  come  to  be  known  as 
"The  Battle  of  Athens,"  and  they  constitute  the  single  most  dis- 
cussed event  in  the  county's  history.  Many  citizens  still  recall  the 
events  of  the  period,  and  often  their  involvement  in  them,  as  if 


114 


Tennessee  County  History  Series 


**    J 


$ .  -#iisl 


Harry  T.  Burn  of  Niota  on  the  steps  of  the  capitol  in  Nashville  following 
ratification  of  the  Nineteenth  Amendment  on  August  18,  1920.  Burn 
is  standing  to  the  rear  of  the  photograph  shaking  hands  with  Anita 
Pollitzer  of  Charleston,  SC,  legislative  secretary  of  the  National 
Woman's  Party. 


they  took  place  yesterday.  Stories  of  large  radios  being  placed 
before  windows  as  shields,  the  sounds  of  bullets  riccocheting 
against  buildings,  people  sitting  all  night  on  their  front  porches 
with  loaded  guns,  and  the  sight  of  brand  new  cars  being  burned 
in  the  streets  are  told  and  retold. 

It  all  began  with  Edward  Hull  Crump.  He  came  from  the 
most  difficult  of  backgrounds — his  father  died  in  the  great  yel- 
low fever  epidemic  of  1878  when  the  younger  Crump  was  three, 
and  the  dreams  that  his  family  had  had  of  becoming  landed  gen- 
try in  rural  Mississippi  had  been  crushed  by  Reconstruction.  Like 
so  many  who  had  found  their  way  there  before  and  after  him, 
Crump  made  his  way  to  Memphis.  His  rise  to  success  there  was 


McMINN  115 

phenomenal.  He  soon  owned  the  business  he  had  first  come  to 
work  for,  married  into  one  of  the  finest  families  of  the  city,  began 
to  amass  what  would  come  to  be  a  personal  fortune,  and — most 
significantly — became  politically  active  in  the  notorious  Fourth 
Ward  of  Memphis.  He  became  mayor  in  1910  and  served  until 
1916.  By  the  early  1930s,  Crump  had  established  the  most  pow- 
erful political  machine  in  the  states  history,  a  machine  which  in- 
fluenced Tennessee  politics  for  the  better  part  of  the  next  half 
century. 

Historians  in  the  future  will  probably  give  mixed  reviews  to 
Crumps  career  and  his  use  of  power.  To  many,  particularly  in 
Memphis  itself,  he  was  known  as  "Mister  Crump,"  the  man  who 
rode  herd  on  a  sinful  "den  of  iniquity. "To  others,  especially  those 
who  were  adversely  effected  by  the  outward  extremities  of  the 
machine,  he  was  "Boss  Crump,"  symbolizing  an  iron-fisted,  dic- 
tatorial rule  that  was  not  beyond  corruption  itself.  Crump  sup- 
ported the  TVA  and  opposed  the  KKK,  but  he  also  knew  every 
pragmatic  political  tactic  that  was  needed  to  control  the  polling 
place  and  to  profit  politically  from  doing  so. 

In  what  has  come  to  be  called  the  "vote  grab  of  1936," those  who 
were  sympathetic  to  Crump  came  to  power  in  McMinn  County. 
Paul  Cantrell,  who  was  involved  with  the  powerful  banking  inter- 
ests of  Etowah  and  aligned  with  the  equally  powerful  Burch  Biggs 
in  Polk  County,  was  elected  state  senator  and  essentially  became 
the  county's  boss.  George  Woods,  also  from  the  eastern  part  of  the 
county,  was  elected  to  the  state  legislature  and,  with  backing  from 
Crump,  ultimately  became  speaker  of  the  house.  Pat  Mansfield,  a 
transplanted  Georgian,  was  elected  sheriff. 

To  pass  a  final  judgement  on  these  men  and  their  activities 
is  difficult.  In  one  sense,  they  participated  in  the  types  of  political 
tactics  that  were  commonplace  at  that  time.  Their  activities  were 
not  unlike  those  used  in  many  other  places  throughout  the  coun- 
try. In  another  sense,  the  harsh  activities  that  were  carried  out, 
especially  by  a  large  "gang"of  deputy  sheriffs,  had  to  have  at  least 
the  implicit  approval,  if  not  even  encouragement  and  direction, 
of  the  high  elected  officials.  There  was  cooperation  with  boot- 
leggers and  gambling  rooms  when  there  were  adequate  payoffs. 


1 1 6  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

There  was  extensive  "fee-grabbing"  from  unsuspecting  tourists 
and  travellers  through  the  area.  The  sheriff  was  paid  $5,000  a 
\  ear,  but  received  expense  money  based  on  the  number  of  per- 
sons jailed — in  the  ten-year  period  ending  in  1946  those  ex- 
penses had  amounted  to  an  almost  inconceivable  $300,000. 

Control  of  the  ballot  boxes,  however,  was  the  key,  and  this 
was  done  in  two  ways — possession  of  the  apparatus  that  gener- 
ated poll  tax  receipts,  and  the  actual  counting  of  the  votes.  It  was 
not  unheard  of  to  have  the  poll  tax  receipts  handed  out  in  whole- 
sale lots  along  with  bootleg  whiskey  on  election  eve,  and  to  con- 
fiscate at  the  merest  whim,  the  receipts  from  political  opponents. 
Names  from  graveyards  throughout  the  county  were  often 
prominent  among  those  who  had  voted.  The  deputies  were  the 
enforcers,  bullies — some  had  served  time  in  the  penitentiary — 
who  took  advantage  of  the  men  being  away  at  war  to  run  rough- 
shod over  the  population. 

However,  the  soldiers  heard  about  these  happenings  and 
chafed  at  the  bit  to  get  back  home  and  do  something  about  it. 
Theodore  White's  research  featured  Ralph  Duggan,  who  had 
served  in  the  Pacific  in  the  Navy  and  who  came  to  be  a  leading 
lawyer  in  the  postwar  period.  According  to  White,  Duggan 
"thought  a  lot  more  about  McMinn  County  than  he  did  about 
the  Japs.  If  democracy  was  good  enough  to  put  on  the  Germans 
and  the  Japs,  it  was  good  enough  for  McMinn  County,  too!"  White 
also  adds  that  when  two  men  on  leave  from  the  service  were  shot 
and  killed  by  suspected  machine  forces,  the  out-of-power  vet- 
erans and  their  supporters  could  no  longer  remain  silent. 

Five  veterans  and  one  civilian  met  secretly  early  in  1946  and 
decided  to  enter  a  GI  slate  against  the  Cantrell  and  Mansfield 
group.  Following  a  tactic  that  Boss  Crump  had  tried  in  Mem- 
phis, Mansfield  was  leaving  office  and  Cantrell  himself  planned 
to  take  his  place.  The  sheriffs  office  handled  large  sums  of  money. 
Crump  had  been  advised  by  friends,  according  to  William  Mil- 
ler s  Memphis  During  the  Progressive  Era,  "that  he  owed  it  to  himself 
to  run  for  some  office  with  generous  fees  attached  before  leaving 
his  political  career,"  and  Cantrell  was  following  something  of  the 
same  advice. 


McMINN  117 

A  mass  meeting  was  called  in  May  which  required  GI  iden- 
tification, at  which  a  nonpartisan  slate  of  candidates  headed  by 
Knox  Henry,  a  decorated  veteran  of  the  North  African  cam- 
paign and  a  member  of  a  highly  respected  Clearwater  area  fam- 
ily, for  sheriff  was  established.  Secret  contributions  from  local 
businessmen  enabled  the  returning  soldiers  to  mount  a  strong 
campaign.  The  biggest  obstacle  to  the  GIs  was  the  popular  feel- 
ing that,  in  spite  of  how  people  voted,  the  machine  would  count 
the  votes.  The  GIs  established  as  the  cornerstone  of  their  cam- 
paign the  slogan  "Your  Vote  Will  Be  Counted  As  Cast!" 

On  election  day  the  largest  number  of  citizens  who  had  voted 
in  years  in  McMinn  County  turned  out,  as  did  over  two  hundred 
armed  deputies  imported  by  Mansfield  for  the  occasion.  Each 
polling  place  had  "watchers"  of  both  parties,  and  soon  there  was 
conflict.  In  Etowah,  a  GI  watcher  asked  that  a  ballot  box  be  opened 
and  certified  as  empty;  he  was  arrested  and  jailed.  There  were 
several  incidents  in  Athens.  Walter  Ellis  was  charged  with  a  "fed- 
eral offense"  and  jailed.  A  black  man,  Tom  Gillespie,  was  not  al- 
lowed to  vote  over  the  GI  watcher's  objection.  In  fright,  Gillespie 
ran  and  was  shot  in  the  back.  Bob  Harrell  objected  to  an  un- 
derage girl  being  allowed  to  vote;  he  was  severely  blackjacked 
and  had  to  be  hospitalized.  Charles  (Shy)  Scott,  Jr.,  and  Ed  Vestal 
were  trapped  by  deputies  while  ballot  boxes  were  confiscated  in 
a  city  voting  place  on  North  Jackson  Street.  Scott's  father  and 
Jim  Buttram  faced  drawn-gun  conflict  with  Mansfield  and  one 
of  his  deputies  while  attempting  to  get  the  release  of  the  young 
men.  Through  the  diversion  created  by  Neal  Ensminger  coming 
from  the  DPA  to  get  a  vote  count,  the  men  were  able  to  break 
through  a  door  to  freedom.  In  a  hail  of  gunfire  the  crowd  which 
had  gathered  began  to  dive  behind  and  under  cars  for  protec- 
tion; the  men  escaped  unharmed,  but  the  boxes  were  gone. 

When  the  counting  began,  the  GI  slate  was  comfortably  lead- 
ing by  a  three-to-one  margin.  It  really  did  not  matter,  unfortu- 
nately, because  boxes  from  the  voting  place  mentioned  above 
and  one  other  important  location  were  taken  to  the  jail,  where 
the  only  GIs  present  were  securely  behind  bars. 

In  marked  frustration,  and  distressed  over  what  was  begin- 


118  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

ning  to  appear  as  a  foregone  conclusion,  the  GIs  met  at  their 
campaign  headquarters  where  Johnsons  Home  Furnishings  now 
stands.  Suddenly  two  deputies  appeared,  flaunting  their  guns 
and  badges,  and  commanded  the  crowd  to  disperse.  Otto,  Oley, 
and  "Bull"  Kennedy  were  brothers  who  never  knew  what  it  meant 
to  back  down  an  inch,  especially  in  the  face  of  such  an  obnoxious 
assault.  Otto  recalls  taking  all  the  threats  that  he  could  stand  and 
then  saying  all  that  was  needed  to  be  said — "Bull,  let's  get  'em!" 
In  the  ensuing  riot,  five  deputies  were  disarmed,  beaten,  and 
eventually  taken  outside  of  town,  stripped  of  their  clothing,  and 
sent  on  their  way  back  to  Georgia.  These  deputies,  if  in  fact  they 
did  as  they  were  told,  were  the  lucky  ones. 

The  problem  of  the  ballot  boxes  still  remained,  and  there  was 
the  additional  problem  that  the  GIs  had  now,  in  fact,  breached 
the  law.  By  morning,  Cantrell  could  bring  in  reinforcements, 
perhaps  even  the  national  guard.  If  there  was  going  to  be  a  res- 
olution of  the  situation,  it  had  to  take  place  immediately. 

By  early  evening,  quietly,  the  veterans  had  armed  themselves 
with  the  best  weapons  available  in  the  local  national  guard  ar- 
mory. Some  rumors  remain  that  they  had  surreptitiously  pur- 
chased 100,000  rounds  of  ammunition  for  shotguns  and  slipped 
these  into  town.  Knowing  little  about  military  tactics,  the  ma- 
chine enforcers  congregated  in  the  county  jail  and  made  the  crit- 
ical mistakes  of  leaving  the  veterans  a  perfect,  high-ground 
vantage  point  across  the  block.  One  shot  from  the  jail,  which  in 
previous  years  would  have  been  enough  to  disperse  any  objec- 
tionable crowd,  was  answered  by  a  volley  of  fire  that  continued 
for  hours.  Years  later,  young  people  who  had  heard  the  story 
could  still  go  by  the  old  DPA  office  on  North  Jackson  Street  and 
see  bullet  holes  in  the  the  walls  from  the  battle. 

By  3:30  a.m.,  the  men  holding  the  jail  had  been  dynamited 
into  submission,  and  by  early  morning  George  Woods  was  calling 
Ralph  Duggan  to  ask  if  he  could  come  to  Athens  and  certify  the 
election  of  the  GI  slate.  White  reported  that  "when  the  GIs  broke 
into  the  jail,  they  found  some  of  the  tally  sheets  marked  by  the 
machine  had  been  scored  fifteen  to  one  for  the  Cantrell  forces." 
When  the  final  tally  was  completed,  Knox  Henry  was  elected 


McMINN  119 

sheriff,  a  good  government  league  was  formed,  and  a  solid  re- 
form movement  was  under  way. 

The  day  after,  an  almost  holiday  mood  prevailed.  While  there 
were  random  acts  of  revenge,  the  majority  of  the  people  who 
walked  the  streets,  examined  the  bullet  holes,  saw  the  burned 
cars,  and  listened  to  the  stories  were  caught  up  in  a  euphoria 
that  had  not  been  experienced  in  McMinn  County  in  a  long  time. 
When  one  of  the  men  trapped  in  the  jail  was  asked  what  he 
did  in  the  midst  of  the  gunfire,  he  responded  "I  got  behind  the 
big  stove  in  the  kitchen — if  it  hadn't  been  hot,  I  would  have 
got  in  it!" 

Newspapers  and  magazines  throughout  the  nation  carried 
reports  about  the  event.  Harper's  Magazine  sent  Theodore  White 
to  cover  the  story.  On  a  late  summer's  evening  in  the  early  1960s 
a  carload  of  tourists  from  Wisconsin  drove  into  the  town  square. 
Suddenly  they  were  horrified  to  be  caught  up  in  the  sound  of 
repeated  gunfire — a  plague  of  birds  which  were  soiling  every- 
thing near  the  square  were  being  dislodged.  The  tourist  asked 
anxious  questions  about  what  was  taking  place,  and  a  uniformed 
policeman  jokingly  responded  that  "The  Battle  of  Athens"  was 
being  fought  again.  The  tourist  turned  ashen,  said  that  he  knew 
all  about  Athens,  and  supposedly  "burned  rubber  "from  the  Robert 
E.  Lee  Hotel  to  the  First  Baptist  Church,  disappearing  in  a  cloud 
of  dust  out  Ingleside  Avenue.  The  "battle"  was  one  of  the  biggest 
news  stories  of  the  postwar  era. 

There  is  no  way  to  judge  the  impact  that  the  events  in  McMinn 
County  had  on  the  rest  of  the  state  and  even  the  nation  as  a 
whole.  Inspired  by  these  events,  others  rose  to  end  corruption 
in  their  own  communities.  A  figure  of  no  less  significance  than 
Estes  Kefauver  emerged  from  the  region  to  challenge  Crump 
and  win.  Kefauver  came  to  be  one  of  the  most  important  political 
figures  in  the  nation  in  the  1950s. 

Freedom  is  repeatedly  taken  for  granted,  until  it  has  been 
fought  and  died  for — then  it  becomes  precious.  When  freedom 
becomes  precious,  the  status  quo  seldom  remains  unchallenged, 
especially  when  justice  has  been  compromised.  For  a  compelling 
moment  on  August  1,  1946,  in  McMinn  County,  freedom  was 


120 


Tennessee  County  History  Series 


^ 


A  partial  view  of  Bowaters  Southern  Paper  Corporation,  the  county's 
largest  employer 

precious.  In  retrospect,  historians  may  find  it  difficult  to  assign 
labels  of  "good  guy"  and  "bad  guy"  in  the  "Battle  of  Athens. "La- 
bels that  designate  "ins"  and  "outs"  may  finally  be  more  appro- 
priate. Nonetheless,  this  was  the  epic  moment  in  the  county's 
history,  and  myth  has  long  since  replaced — or  at  least  ob- 
scured— the  events  that  actually  took  place. 


A  Look  Toward  the  Future 

After  World  War  II  McMinn  County  underwent  rapid  growth 
and  development.  The  entrance  of  Bowaters  onto  the  scene  in 
the  early  1950s  set  the  pace  for  the  next  two  decades.  Olin  Mathe- 
son  and  Rust  Engineering  soon  moved  into  the  Calhoun  area, 
Beaunit  came  to  Etowah,  and  Westinghouse  established  a  major 
plant  in  Athens.  All  of  this,  coupled  with  the  fact  that  almost 
every  existing  plant  in  the  community  experienced  expansion 


McMINN  121 

and  new  construction,  meant  that  the  industrial  base  of  the  county 
was  growing  rapidly. 

The  vocational  complexion  of  the  county  changed  accordingly. 
The  soldiers  typically  did  not  return  to  the  farm  but  instead  en- 
tered the  plants,  factories,  and  businesses.  Many  stayed  in  the  county, 
but  many  others  commuted  to  Chattanooga  to  work  at  Dupont, 
Combustion  Engineering,  and  other  plants.  Others  went  to  Knox- 
ville  and  Oak  Ridge  to  work  for  TVA  and  Union  Carbide,  while 
still  others  worked  on  TVA  construction  projects  throughout  the 
valley  to  build  the  new  power  plants  that  attracted  even  more  in- 
dustry to  the  region.  The  agricultural  base  of  the  economy  rapidly 
changed,  although  fine  farms  continued  to  exit. 

This  economic  expansion,  accompanied  by  the  "postwar  baby 
boom,"  meant  that  new  home  construction  skyrocketed.  In  Ath- 
ens especially,  whole  new  "subdivisions" — the  word  had  not  been 
used  before — sprang  up  in  the  Ingleside  and  City  Park  areas  and 
required  that  the  city  school  system  expand.  Later,  the  neologism 
"shopping  center"  was  added,  and  the  topography  of  the  com- 
munities changed  even  more.  New  highway  construction  to  Eto- 
wah and  Englewood,  plus  a  Highway  11  Bypass  from  Niota  to 
Riceville,  greatly  enhanced  travel.  The  new  interstate  highway 
system  ultimately  paralled  the  old  ETV&G  rail  route  and  opened 
the  county  to  a  revolution  in  trade  and  commerce  much  as  the 
railroad  had  done  a  century  before.  Today  the  "Golden  Arches," 
Holiday  Inns,  and  almost  every  other  symbol  of  major  metro- 
politan centers  are  to  be  found  right  in  the  heart  of  the  county. 

In  many  respects,  it  seems  that  the  community  has  become 
decentralized  and  somehow  that  it  has  lost  the  focal  points  that 
it  may  have  had  in  earlier  years.  The  owners  of  old  family  busi- 
nesses could  not  always  continue  to  hand  their  control  down  to 
another  generation,  as  these  succeeding  generations  may  have 
moved  away  or  somehow  lacked  the  entrepreneurial  zeal  and 
creativity  of  the  founders.  Many  of  these  businesses  were  bought 
by  large  conglomerates  with  corporate  offices  in  distant  cities. 
White  Industries  ultimately  owned  several  local  plants;  the  cor- 
porate giant,  Pittsburgh  Forges,  bought  Taylor  Implement. 

With  the  influx  of  industries  from  the  North,  new  people  came 


122  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

into  the  county  and  rose  to  positions  of  influence — economic, 
social,  and  political.  There  was  a  time  only  recently  when  it  seemed 
possible  to  walk  the  streets  of  each  town  in  the  county  and  know 
almost  everyone — that  time  has  distinctly  passed. 

The  greatest  element  of  change  may  have  simply  been  the 
growing  American  mobility.  It  became  too  easy  to  go  to  Knoxville 
or  Chattanooga,  Nashville  or  Atlanta.  Their  concentration  of  wide 
ranges  of  choice  in  purchasing,  dining,  and  entertainment  was 
simply  more  than  the  smaller  communities  could  offer.  Then, 
large  corporate  interests  began  to  build  shopping  centers  which 
further  detracted  from  the  central  cities. 

People  seem  to  be  searching  for  a  new  focal  point  around 
which  to  center  the  county.  This  may  be  too  tall  an  order  for  an 
age  in  which  television  is  rapidly  completing  the  homogenization 
of  society  begun  by  Sears  &  Roebuck  and  Henry  Ford.  But  as 
we  conquer  the  ugly  manifestations  of  provincialism — such  as 
fear  and  distrust  of  anyone  or  anything  different — we  also  lose 
much  of  the  sense  of  continuity  and  tradition.  The  present  age 
has  made  it  as  conceivable  to  view  the  county  as  an  extension  of 
Atlanta  as  it  is  to  consider  it  an  extension  of  Athens  or  any  of 
the  other  communities. 

It  will  take  years  for  the  new  high  schools  to  gain  the  same 
sense  of  tradition  held  by  the  old  schools  in  the  individual  com- 
munities. No  national  chain  of  full-service  department  stores  can 
rival  the  personal  touch  of  Ed  Self,  Curtis  Foster,  and  August 
Adams  at  The  Men's  Shop.  It  is  almost  impossible  to  conceive  of 
the  bright  plastic,  fast  food  places  gaining  the  character  of  The 
Cherokee  Huddle,  Burkett  Witts — especially  when  it  was  in  the 
old  Cleage  Building — or  Riddles  when  it  was  on  the  present 
Woolworth's  corner  with  overhead  fans  replacing  air-condition- 
ing and  milk  shakes  served  in  metal  containers  that  held  the  bet- 
ter part  of  three  full  glasses.  Undergraduates  painfully  watched 
the  demolition  of  Ritter  Hall  at  Tennessee  Wesleyan  so  that  a 
parking  lot  could  be  built,  but  the  care  given  to  Old  College  and 
Banfield  Hall  (now  renamed  Durham)  has  been  more  than  worth 
the  effort.  Connections  to  the  past  can  be  preserved. 

Attempts  have  been  made  to  renovate  downtown  areas,  and 


McMINN 


123 


The  Etowah  L&N  Depot  before  1910.  This  building  has  recently  been 
renovated  and  is  a  local  showplace. 


in  doing  so  to  revitalize  old  business  districts.  Calhoun,  the  oldest 
town,  has  suffered  the  most  dilapidation.  The  old  main  street 
looks  beyond  repair.  Only  one  street  remains  with  a  hint  of  the 
gracefulness  of  old  residences.  Etowah,  the  newest,  seems  to  have 
become  progressively  conscious  of  preserving  the  past.  The  ren- 
ovated L&N  station  is  beautifully  done  and  a  source  of  real  civic 
pride.  Perhaps  its  successful  completion  will  become  a  catalyst 
for  similar  projects  in  other  parts  of  the  city. 

Niota,  perhaps  more  than  any  other  community  in  the  county, 
has  retained  a  great  deal  of  its  original  uniqueness  and  charm. 
The  old  business  district,  the  main  residential  sections,  and  the 
railroad  station  are  strong  reminders  of  the  past.  Much  of  this 
resulted  from  the  way  that  the  original  families  and  their  kin 
have  remained  close  to  the  community. 

Athens  has  made  a  variety  of  efforts  to  reclaim  the  downtown 
area.  Storefronts  on  both  the  north  and  south  sides  of  the  square 
have  been  redone  and  made  quite  attractive.  The  South  Jackson, 


124 


Tennessee  County  History  Series 


The  present  county  courthouse 

Eastanallee  area  has  been  greatly  renovated  and  a  park  con- 
structed. Urban  renewal  has  healed  the  scar  of  "Tin  Can  Holler," 
and  new  thoroughfares  abound.  The  new  courthouse,  of  course, 
is  a  striking  centerpiece.  An  element  is  missing,  however — the 
square's  old  character  as  a  meeting  place,  a  gathering  place. 

Ultimately,  it  is  the  people  together  that  become  the  focal  point 
of  a  locality.  They  lend  it  their  character  and  style.  Unfortu- 
nately, the  forces  of  change  that  have  swept  the  nation  in  the  last 
two  decades  have  made  it  difficult  for  groups  of  people  to  have 
the  kind  of  community  solidarity  and  identity  that  counties  like 
McMinn  once  enjoyed. 

New  generations  are  coming  on  the  scene.  Generations  are 
coming  that  may  sense  that  something  was  missed  in  the  postwar 
era's  blind  rush  toward  the  twenty-first  century.  If  they  do,  they 
will  undoubtedly  look  for  the  kind  of  place  that  can  be  infused 
with  their  spirit.  McMinn  County  continues  to  be  exactly  that 
kind  of  place. 


Suggested  Readings 

Newspapers:  The  most  extensive  record  of  materials  available  on  McMinn 
County  is  to  be  found  in  the  archives  of  The  Daily  Post-Athenian  and,  to 
a  somewhat  lesser  extent,  The  Etowah  Enterprise.  Both  of  these  papers 
have  published  extensive,  retrospective  editions  coinciding  with  the 
American  Bicentennial  and  other  important  historical  dates. 

Public  Libraries:  The  local  history  resources  available  at  both  the  Athens 
and  Etowah  public  libraries  are  limited.  A  few  short  personal  memoirs 
are  available.  The  McMinn  County  Historical  Museum  has  been  es- 
tablished on  the  campus  of  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College,  and  is  becom- 
ing a  center  for  an  increasing  historical  consciousness  in  the  county. 

Resource  Persons:  James  Burn  at  Edgewood  Farm  in  Niota  would  be 
an  excellent  contact  person  for  futher  information,  as  would  J.  Neal 
Ensminger  of  The  Daily  Post- Athenian. 

Books  and  Articles 

Campbell,  Mary.  The  Attitude  of  Tennesseans  toward  the  Union.  New  York: 
Vantage  Press,  1961. 

Coulter,  E.  M.  William  G.  Brownlow:  Fighting  Parson  of  the  Southern  High- 
lands. Knoxville:  University  of  Tennessee  Press,  1971. 

Dykeman,  Wilma:  Tennessee:  A  Bicentennial  History.  New  York:  Norton, 
1975. 

Goodspeed,  Weston  A.,  et  al.  History  of  Thirty  East  Tennessee  Counties,  with 
Biographical  Sketches  (1887).  rpt.  Nashville:  Charles  and  Randy  Elder, 
1972. 

Hard  Times  Remembered:  A  Study  of  the  Depression  in  McMinn  County,  ed. 
Bill  Akins  and  Genevieve  Wiggins.  Athens:  McMinn  County  His- 
torical Society,  1983. 

Historical  and  Pictorial  Review,  National  Guard  of  the  State  of  Tennessee. 
(available  in  annual  editions  with  pertinent  ones  from  McMinn 
County  beginning  in  1939). 

Keith,  Charles  Fleming.  Personal  Memoir,  n.d.,  in  Edward  Gauche  Fisher 
Public  Library,  Athens,Tennessee. 

Lewis,Thomas  M.  N.,and  Madeline  Kneberg.  Tribes  that  Slumber.  Knox- 
ville: University  of  Tennessee  Press,  1955. 

125 


126  Tennessee  County  History  Series 

Lindsley,  John.  The  Military  Annals  of  Tennessee:  Confederate.  Spartan- 
burg, SC:  The  Reprint  Co.,  1974. 

Martin,  Leroy.  "A  History  of  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College."  1957  (avail- 
able from  the  college,  TWC  Library,  and  Fisher  Library). 

Patten,  Cartter.  A  Tennessee  Chronicle.  Chattanooga:  The  Author,  1953. 

Sharp,  John  McClure.  Recollections  and  Hearsays  of  Athens:  Fifty  Years  and 
Beyond.  Athens:  The  Author,  1933. 

Temple,  Oliver  P.  East  Tennessee  and  the  Civil  War.  Freeport,  NY:  Books 
for  Learning  Press,  1971. 

Tennessee  State  Library  and  Archives.  "Inventory  of  McMinn  County 
Records."  Nashville:  State  Library  and  Archives,  1964-.  Unpub- 
lished typescript. 

Tennessee  Valley  Authority,  Industry  Division.  Agricultural-Industrial 
Survey  of  McMinn  County, Tennessee.  Knoxville:  TVA,  1934. 

Turner,  Martha.  "The  Cause  of  the  Union  in  East  Tennessee."  Tennessee 
Historical  Quarterly,  40  (Winter  1981). 

Valliere,  Kenneth  L.  "Benjamin  Correy,  Tennessean  Among  the  Cher- 
okees:  A  Study  of  the  Removal  Policy  of  Andrew  Jackson,  part  1." 
Tennessee  Historical  Quarterly,  41  (Summer  of  1982). 

White,  T.  H.  "The  Battle  of  Athens, Tennessee."  Harpers  Magazine, 
January  1947. 


Index 

Illustrations  are  indicated  by  an  asterisk  following  the 
page  number. 


Adams,  J.  B.  "Ace," 99 

Arnwine,  Bart,  79 

Arterburn,  Lowell  F.,  103 

Athens,  7,  20,  26,  29,  31,  32,  38-39,  44, 

117.  120,  121,  123-124;  banks,  21; 

battle  of,  xi-xii,  112-119;  fires,  70; 

in  1850,  20-21;  in  1870,  56-59; 

in  1920s,  60-64;  in  1930s,  65-67 
Athens  Hosiery  Mill,  41,  54,  61-62 
Athens  Mining  &  Manufacturing  Co., 

51-55 
Athens  Press,  103 
Athens  Roller  Mills,  41-42 
Athens  Training  School,  95 
Athletics,  98-100 
Aytes,  Glenn,  108 

Baker,  Rose,  78 

Baptists,  83,  84,  85-86,  87,  88,  90 

Barkley,Jim,  112 

Blacks  in  county,  76—82.  See  also  Slavery. 

Blackburn,  Gideon,  91 

Blair,  Samuel  P.,  68,  69 

"Blue  Front,"  73*,  74,  89 

Bovvaters  Southern  Paper  Corporation, 

40,  120* 
Bovd,  Spencer,  31 
Bradford,  Mary,  9 
Bradford,JamesC.,29 
Bradford,  James  S.,  31 
Brient,  Jacob,  James  &  Mortimer,  49 
Brown,  Buck,  99-100 
Brown,  Dillard,  90 
Browning  Circle,  103-104 
Brownlow,  Parson  William  G.,  27-28,  86 
Bryan,  Retta,  75 
Bryan,  M.  L.,  75 
Buchanan,  Brice,  79 
Burn,  T.  Harry,  113,  114* 
Burn.J.  L.,69,  70 
Buttram,  Jim,  1  17 

Calhoun,  7,  9,  20,  31,  40,  67,  91,  120,  123 
Calhoun,  John,  1  12 
Cantrell,  John,  1  1-13 


Cantrell,  Paul,  115,  116,  118 

Cantrell  family,  74-75 

Gate,  A.  M.,  36 

Cherokee  Removal,  16-19 

Chesnutt,J.  W.,49 

Chesnutt,  Nannie,  49 

Church  of  Christ,  90 

Civil  War,  28-39;  early  emancipation 

position,  23-24;  Greeneville 

Convention,  26;  impact  of  war,  31-32; 

newspapers,  101;  referendum  votes, 

25,  26.  See  also  States' rights 

controversy. 
Clegg  (Cleage),  Samuel,  1 1 
Coffey,  Asbury  M.,  10-1 1,  46 
Collins,  H.  A.,  68,  70 
Confederate  units,  29-30 
Cook,  J.  L.  (Jake),  80,  87-88 
Cook  High  School,  95-96 
Cooke,  James  B.,  30 
Cooke,  William  Henry,  13,  46 
Crescent  Hosiery  Mill,  41,  69-70 
Crutchfield,  Thomas,  1 1 
Cumberland  Presbyterians,  82-83 

Daily  Post- Athenian,  1 0 1-1 02 

Davis,  George  Barber,  91 

Davis,  O.  L.,  74 

Deal,  Bob  "Mr.  Dirty,"  100 

Derrick,  John,  106 

Dills  Company  of  Vaughn s  Brigade, 

37-38 
Dodson,  Jesse,  90 
Dodson,  Oliver  M.,  39 
Dotson,  Walt,  79 
Duggari,  Ralph,  116,  118 

East  Tennessee  &  Georgia  RR,  46-47,  68; 

first  officials,  46;  schedule,  47 
Early  settlers  in  county,  7-14,  20 
Education,  90-100;  of  Cherokees,  17 
Elkins,  John,  1 12 
Ellis,  Walter,  1 1 7 
Englewood,  49-50,  87,  99.  See  also 

Tellico  function. 


127 


28 


Tennessee  County  History  Series 


Ensminger.  J.  Neal,  81,  101-103, 
102*,  117 

Etowah.  43.  48-49.  72-76.  117,  120.  123; 

attorneys.  75;  Carnegie  Library,  76; 

churches,  88—90;  early  businesses, 

73-75;  health  care,  75-76 
Etowah  Enterprises,  101,  103 

Federal  units,  30-3 1 

Fires.  70 

Fisher,  R.J. Jr..  61 

Fisher,  R.J.  Sr,  52,  53*,  54,  61 

Foree.  Drs.  J.  O.,  Ed,  &  Carey,  66 

Foreman,  James,  18 

Forest  Hill  Academy,  91,  92*,  95 

Forest  Hill  School,  66 

Forrest,  Albartus,  30 

Forrest,  W.  F.  &  family,  69,  70 

Fountain  Hill  Academy,  92 

Froneberger,  W.  R.,  75 

Garwood,  Sid,  51 

Gatewood,JohnP.,32 

Getty s,  Frank,  42 

Gettys,  James,  47,  80 

Gettys,  Uncle  Nelse,  80 

Gettys,  Tobe,  67 

Giles,  Warren,  108-109,  112 

Gillespie,  Tom,  1 17 

Goforth,  Dr.  N.  B.,  92 

Gouldy,J.A.,  29 

Grand  View  Hotel,  54-55.  See  also 

"Red  Elephant." 
Gregory,  J.  W.,  51 
Grubb,  Wayne,  100 

Harrell,  Bob,  117 
Hart,  John,  5-6 
Henry,  Knox,  118-119 
Hiwassee  Academy,  91 
Hiwassee  Rail  Road,  11,  44-46 
Hiwassee  River,  1 ,  3 
Hiwassee  River  Bridge,  35-37 
Hughes,  Charles,  112 
Hughes,  Joe,  34 

Indians,  3-5,  16-19,90-91 
Industrial  development,  40-75,  121 
Ivins,  Dan,  75 
Ivins,  Samuel  P.,  44,  101 

Jackson,  Amos,  80 
Jackson,  R.C.,  44 
Jarnigan,  Hamilton,  42 
Johnson,  Charles,  87 


Johnson,  Harper,  80-81 

Kefauver,  Estes,  13,  119 

Keith,  Charles  F.  Jr.,  63,  104 

Keith,  Charles  Fleming,  13-14,  20 

Keith,  Elliot,  42-43 

Keith,  William,  79 

Keith  Memorial  Church,  13,  86,  102 

Kelley,John,  107 

Kennedy  brothers,  74,  118 

King,  Horace,  80 

Knox,  Glenn  "Mutt,"  98-99 

Land,  J.  R.,  87 

Lane,  Isaac  &  Tidence,  14,  84 

Lane,JamesT.,27,34 

Lavender,  Wayne  E.,  109 

Lay,  Carl,  112 

Lee  Highway,  64-65 

Lewis,  J.  N.,  73 

Lillard,  David  W,  75,  107-108 

List,  Gussie  Rose,  90 

Lowry,  William,  20 

Lowry,  Willie,  29 

McClary,  Dr.  Spenser,  75-76 

McDermott,  W  P.  H.,  29 

McGaughey,John,  26,  39 

McKinney,  Frank,  73,  103 

McMinn,  Joseph,  14-15 

McMinn  County:  courthouses,  1 1, 
12*,  124*;  first  officials,  20;  map, 
2;  organization  of,  20;  1834 
population,  20 

McMinn  County  High  School,  96 

Mansfield,  Pat,  115,117 

Matlock,  Isaac,  79 

May,  M.  R.,  26 

Mayfield,  Jessie,  1 1 

Mayfield  Dairy  Farms,  60,  61* 

Meigs,  Return  J.,  15,  21,  91 

Methodists,  83-84,  86-87,  88,  89,  91, 

96-97 
Miller,  M.  M.,51 
Mills,  early,  41-43 
Moses,  Herman  L.,  108 
Moses,  Walter  E.,  108 
Mount  Harmony  Select  School,  92-94 
Mouse  Creek  (Niota),  21,  30,  47,  68, 

70—71,  92;  early  merchants  and 

settlers,  21 
Mouse  Creek  Academy,  69,  92,  93* 

Nankiville,  Dr.J.  R.,  66,  104 


McMINN 


129 


Nash,  W.E.,  77-78,81-82 

National  Guard;  1901  volunteers,  104; 

polite  action  in  Mexico,  106 
Neal,  John  R.,  29 
Neil,  John  C,  30 
Newspapers,  100-103 
Nichols,  J.  O.,  75 
Nineteenth  Amendment,  1 13 
Niota,  68-72,  92,  123;  Bank  of,  70. 

See  also  Mouse  Creek. 

"Old  College,"  34-35 
Owen,  J.  B.,  110 

Parker,  Dr.  P.  E.,  75 
Powers,  Ozelle,  94 
Presbyterians,  82,  85,  87,  90,  91,  94 
Public  schools,  early,  94—95 

Railroads,  43-51,  68,  72 

Rains,  John,  73 

Reagan,  James  Hayes,  44—45*,  47 

Red  Elephant,  the,  54-55,  56* 

Religion,  82-90 

Rice,  Charles,  67 

Riceville,  21,31,  67-68 

Riceville  Academy,  92 

Riddles,  122 

Ridenour,  Prof.  J.  C,  66-67 

Robb,  James  L.,  97 

Robinson,  Charles  P.,  108 

Rogers,  John,  91 

Ross,  George  W.,  39 

Rowley,  Erastus,  97 

Rucker,  E.  W.,  29 

Sanford,21,67 
Saulpaw,  G.  L.,  41 
Scheeler,  Reuben,  79 
Schermerhorn,  J.  E,  18 
Schultz,  H.  L.,68 
Scott,  Charles  Jr.,  1 17 
Senter,  DeWitt  C,  28 
Seventh  TN  Mounted  Infantry 

Regiment,  USA,  38-39 
Sevier,  Elizabeth,  7 
Sharp,  J.  M.,65,  80 


Sharp,  Mrs.  Ruth,  90 

Shelton,  James,  9-10 

Sherman,  Gen.  William  T.,  32-33,  36-67 

Slack,  Ephraim,  41 

Slavery,  22,  23.  77-78 

Spanish  explorers,  6-7 

Spence,  John  Fletcher,  97 

Spradling,  Daisy  Rice,  103 

Spriggs,  Pat,  79 

Springston,  Isaac,  18 

Staley,  C.  B.,  70 

Stamey,  Henry,  90 

States' rights  controversy,  24-27 

Summers,  Leroy,  1 1  1 

Tellico  Junction,  48,  49,  See  also 

Englewood. 
Tellico  Railroad  Co.,  49 
Tennessee  Coach  Co.,  51 
Tennessee  Wesleyan  College,  54,  96—98, 

122.  See  also  "Old  College." 
Thompson,  Riley,  42 
Todd,  Donald,  75 
Trew,  J.  W.,  43 
Tucker,  R.  L.,  74 

Unionists,  25,  26,  38-39 

Vandivere,  S.  H.,  74 

Van  Dyke,  T  Nixon,  21,  32,  46 

Vestal,  Ed,  117 

Walker,  John,  5,  8-9 

Walker,  John  Jr.,  16,  18,20 

Walker  s  Ferry,  9,  91 

Wankan, Fred,  101-102 

Ward,  Nancy,  7 

Wattenbarger  family,  34 

Wrhite  Cliffs  Springs  Resort,  50*— 51 

Willson,  H.  M.,  70 

Willson,  Hugh,  70 

Willson,  William,  60 

Wilson,  C.  H.,79 

Witt,  Burkett,  79,  122 

Woods,  George,  115,  118 

Woods  Memorial  Hospital,  75 

World  War  I,  106-108 

World  War  II,  108-112 


About  the  Author 

Steve  Byrum  was  born  in  1947  in  Athens  and  spent  the  first 
eighteen  years  of  his  life  in  McMinn  County.  Since  that  time  he 
has  continued  to  live  in  proximity  to  the  county  and  to  retain 
many  family  ties  there. 

His  mothers  family  (Bradford)  were  original  settlers  in  the 
Calhoun  area,  have  a  part  Cherokee  lineage,  and  trace  their 
English  ancestry  to  William  Bradford  of  the  Plymouth  Colony. 
His  fathers  family  had  been  tenant  farmers  who  came  into  the 
area  shortly  after  the  turn  of  the  century  from  the  northeastern 
part  of  the  state. 

Dr.  Byrum  is  a  graduate  of  Tennessee  Wesleyan  College,  with 
a  master  of  divinity  degree  from  Southern  Seminary  in  Louis- 
ville, and  master  of  arts  and  doctor  of  philosophy  degrees  in 
philosophy  from  the  University  of  Tennessee,  Knoxville.  He  is 
presently  assistant  dean  of  humanities  and  associate  professor 
of  philosophy  at  Chattanooga  State  Community  College,  and  has 
written  extensively  in  many  areas. 

He  is  married  to  the  former  Phyllis  Hughes  of  Athens,  whose 
ancestry  is  Henderson,  Frye  and  Kelley.  They  have  two  children, 
Philip  and  Meredith,  and  live  in  Chattanooga. 


msM